When my seven-year-old begged me to be allowed to play softball, I naively thought that this would be much like any kids extra-curricular sporting activity.
I’ll spend a couple of afternoons a week driving her to and from practice. There will be some bleacher-sitting, cheering and commiserating. A pre-season hour in the store buying sports kit. Weekly washing of uniform, twice-weekly frantic searching for misplaced sporting items, and at least one last-minute trip to the store for replacements.
I actually quite enjoy spending weekends in the park on the receiving end of my daughter’s bruisingly enthusiastic practice throws and even more bruising scorn at my (lack of) pitching ability. These things are all part of the great modern tradition of being a Sports Mom. I have the SUV, I thought I was prepared.
What I didn’t expect was the two page list of parent “volunteer” jobs I’m supposed to sign up for, the calendar of fundraising events I’m expected to support and the pre-season parents’ meeting I (and my chequebook) are required to attend. As well as the dues we’ve already paid, each team has to find a corporate sponsor. There will be a parent-produced team banner to go with the parent-organised uniform, socks, hair bows, team photos and end of year trophies. Parents staff the concession stand, keep score at games, and clean up the dugout, stands and field afterwards.
I’m not opposed to pitching in (Ha – see the softball metaphor? That’s how much of a team player I am) to pick up some trash or have the occasional t-shirt printed, but there’s something so excessively peppy about the whole affair that brings out my inner Grumpy Brit. If I want to attend carnivals or crawfish boils, I can. I just don’t see what that has to do with a bunch of girls hitting a ball around a park. Please, America? For once could it just be simple?