sportsvirtual children by Scott Warnock

Secret sports parent tip: The Intensity Incantation

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O my child, in your bright tiny uniform, I use this spell to transfer my aggression, my radiant energy through the ether to you.

I will crowd the sidelines of your event, your playing field, as only I recognize that in the easy suburban world this place has become a needed site of gladiatorial excess, a place for victory and domination!

Stamp I will. Beat my hands together. Cup them and yell. Stalk those sidelines. [Caster must do these things in rhythmic fashion thrice.]

Through these actions, with these words, I will project all that is pent up in me to you. I will make your little body, too joyful with its newness to the wonders of the world, surge with anger and dark energy.

O child, you will abandon your meaningless ways and strive for triumph!

Your child-like apathy toward our glorious events will be transmuted into my raw fury!

You will cease your loping, your awkward galloping, your weed-picking, and you will become a grim warrior, focused razor-sharp.

You will cease your crying. You will shed the look of shock and embarrassment on your face. You will see now, through me, the so-apparent importance of our shared endeavor.

Then we will march off the field of battle together triumphant! You will then understand the dizzying stakes!

O child, you and I will become closer. Through this experience, we will see to this wonderful thing, this success for you – and me. [Thrice more rhythmic stamping, beating, yelling, and stalking.]

Scott Warnock is a writer and teacher who lives in South Jersey. He is a professor of English at Drexel University, where he directs the University Writing Program. Father of three and husband of one, Scott is on two local school boards and coaches all kinds of youth sports.
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7 Responses to “Secret sports parent tip: The Intensity Incantation”

  1. You made the reader ask herself: am I the caster?
    I like to believe that all the wild yelling comes from a place of support on the parents’ side of the fields/ courts/ mats of competition. Perhaps it is the residue of the high school cheerleader in me. I do know all too well there are parents far more serious than any thought that I could have about matches of skill. I try to tell myself that they have their expectations, and I have my simpler ones. My hope is for my kids to get a taste of teamwork, a taste of another adult’s leadership, a taste of the skill and thought that goes into a competition-all in the hope that they will make choices for themselves in what they want to pursue in their future. I know that colleges base scholarships on athletic abilities and the bar is set high, I just find it frustrating when that bar is being whacked over a kids head at the age of 10!

  2. I did not have a son, whereby I could sympathize or empathize with that dynamic. However, I was a son and a younger brother and lived through my own receivership of these exhortations, as well as those directed at my older brother by our father.

    I did have a daughter, and she decided she wanted to follow a friend into the art of jujitsu at about the age of ten. I give her credit that she stuck with it even after her friend left. She eventually became a black belt. But it was at her first competition that I saw that this was not to be a problem for me as an overbearing sports parent.

    My daughter was about ten and had just tested for her yellow belt. Her sensai recommended she compete in a regional event and I asked my daughter if she was okay with that and she was shaky but said okay. We went to the event locale and there were hundreds of people there. My daughter and I were both nervous as we signed up and got ready for the first round in front of a few dozen people.

    When my little girl got onto the mat and faced her opponent, I could tell she was scared to death…but I saw her take a deep breath and compose herself. I think I shouted something like “You can do it honey!” and waited as the official dropped his hand and the match began. My daughter’s opponent grabbed her within 5 seconds and threw her down like a rag doll for a point. I don’t remember much about the rest of the match.

    What I do remember was that after the match, I asked my daughter how she felt, and I saw that she was glowing even though her hair was messed up and her face was red where she had hit the mat. She didn’t care that she lost the match or that she got slammed twice by her opponent. She said “I was scared but I did it.” And I hugged her and said “Hell yeah you did and I am proud that you went out there and tried to do something that scared you.” We were both so high and excited…her for facing a fear and me for watching her do it. God what a moment and feeling that I am blessed to have!

    I wish that was the lesson that children and their parents could learn from sports and competition. Overcome your fears and don’t be afraid to try…and fail. But know you tried.

  3. Visions of Braveheart danced in their heads…
    I love this article Scott! Well done!

  4. Excellant. I remember my dad quietly observing on the sidelines of my softball and field hockey games. I think he was just hanging around until it was time to take me to Friendly’s.

  5. you’re actually starting to creep me out.

  6. dude, your a genius…excellent job

  7. Seriously, if you could get all the parents to do this, the kids would be so wigged out. They’d probably behave for a week or so — or at least stay in their rooms.

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