The Five Parents You’ll Meet at a Fourth Grade Basketball Game

My son’s basketball season comes to an end this weekend, and I can’t say I’m too sad about it. Although he enjoys it, and that’s really what this is about (I had to say that), it’s extremely stressful to be a parent in the stands these days.

It’s not because I’m so worried my son isn’t going to do his best or that he’s going to get hurt. I know he’ll be fine no matter what. It’s because these goddamn parents around me are making me nuts!

If you don’t have children, or yours are older and you haven’t been to a game in a while, let me give you an idea of who is sitting around me in the stands.

The “My Kid Should Be Starting” Parent

This is typically a mom with little to no knowledge of the game of basketball. But she is firm in her belief that her second string kid is being singled out for no reason by the coach, and being kept from his shot at being the next LeBron James, because clearly as everyone can see, he should be starting. Usually this kid is of marginal talent, but mom’s got the blinders on.

The “That’s My Boy!” Parent

Armed with a video camera and an adult-sized shirt with their kid’s number and name on it (there is actually a mom on my son’s team who owns a shirt that says “Jimmy’s Mom” [name changed to protect the innocent – in this case, being me] on the back where the name usually goes), this parent is overly enthusiastic about everything their kid does, films every game, and is often good friends with the “My Kid Should be Starting” parent. They might even be the same person.

If a gaggle of these parents get together, they might come up with schemes such as holding up signs, waving pom-poms and face painting.

These parents want you to know how good of a player their kid is, and usually know the high school coach personally (Jimmy’s Mom is on a texting basis with him – and keep in mind, her fourth grader is her oldest kid).

The “Are You Fucking Blind, Ref?” Parent

You’d think at a 4th grade level, all the parents would realize this isn’t the NBA. The refs are likely being paid very little to enforce the rules of basketball at our games, but these parents hound the refs like it’s game 7 of the NBA championship. Forget decorum – there are ample amounts of F-bombs being yelled onto the court. They will do helpful things such as yell “TRAVEL!” to make sure the ref is on top of things.

The “Keep it Classy” Parent

This is the parent who yells at their own kid from the stands. Forget about the coach; this parent is the one calling the shots. Constantly yelling to get their kid’s attention to offer such helpful hints as “hands up,” this parent is a nuisance both to the coaching staff and to their own kid. The child of these types of parents are also typically the kids who burst into tears when they are pulled out of the game. Probably because their parent has them frightened to death of failure.

These are also parents who instigate fights with the “Keep it Classy” Parents from the other team, as well as the coaches. They were probably also the parents who stuffed nerds in lockers and gave atomic wedgies to freshmen when they were ruling their high school.

The “Where’s My Xanax?” Parent

That’d be me. In order to deal with all of the above, I usually have to take some kind of anti-anxiety medication, and/or spend an hour meditating prior to the game. I try to cheer for everyone on the team, yell supportive things to my son but not too many because it embarrasses him, and generally stay out of the drama. If I can, I try to sit away from the other parents on my team because we have at least one of each of the above.

So there’s your comprehensive guide to who’s who in the stands at the fourth grade basketball game. If you see any of these people, avoid at all costs.


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