by Cheryl Jackson Monday April 23, 2012

It's soccer time. And baseball time. Not so long ago I spent two or three nights a week at this time of year huddled with other parents watching our kids. My biggest challenge was making sure I caught my kids actually playing since I considered this social time with my friends and spent most of my time talking. Once, at a swim meet, I actually cheered on the wrong boy (swim caps and small suits all look the same from a distance).

This is not to say I didn't offer my sage advice. For instance, I told my son he probably shouldn't squat in the middle of the soccer field and view the sky through his hands while the game was on. (He's now a cinematographer, but I didn't know that then.)  I also told my daughter that doing cartwheels while manning first base probably wasn't a good idea during the softball game. Maybe after.

It's hard to know how involved we should be in our kids' games. Our job is to teach, no?  For some reason, though, it all seems to go wrong when it comes to sports.

I just read an article in The Post Game in which two coaches talk about their informal survey done over three decades. They asked college athletes, "What is your worst memory from playing youth and high school sports?" The most common response: "The ride home from games with my parents."  Ouch.  What made them feel good?  When parents said, "I love to watch you play."

We talked to some experts about The Value of the Game: What Kids Learn from Sports.

We also have some advice about choosing house league or rep team, and how to put fun first for your child

What are your memories of playing sports as a kid?  And how do you react to your own kids' games?  I'd love to hear your stories.