Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hockey Mom, Sports Mom

As the nation heard Sarah Palin's self definition last week, "the only difference between a Hockey Mom and a pit bull is a touch of lipstick" (she had lip liner on as well, define "a touch") a few of us sports chauffeurs wonder what unique qualities we bring to the table.
Amy Finnerty and Annabel Levy astutely sort through the fine points in Forbes, closing with a jab at the baseball Mom.
"Unlike in soccer, where the mothers are free to show up looking as if they just rolled out of bed (often their actual state), in Little League Baseball, looks count. The baseball mom doesn't so much choose a team or coach as a coach chooses her, it is said. He usually prefers the boss' kid, his son's best friend or ... the one with the hottest mom. And by the end of an eventful season, if dad isn't equally committed, she tends to have her divorce lawyer on speed dial."
(A-Rod culture?)
Each sports kingdom brings its inherent personality, which washes through the arena, court, locker room, starting with the heroes, on down to the coaches, players, and of course reflected in the supportive Moms on the sidelines.
Over the years, my boys have played tennis, soccer, baseball, basketball and Ultimate Frisbee. So I have been many kinds of Moms. Hip and flippant. When we cheered our soccer team on those chilly Fall mornings, we were keenly conscious of anyone tripping or grabbing our little heroes. We made our gentle noise.
Hockey and football on the other hand seem far more vicious and violent. They thrive on the blood. I seem to remember something about an enraged parent and a sharp hockey skate blade. And jail time.
Around here, we know some kids that play Rugby and Lacross. They are often bruised.
I, on the other hand, raised wusses. I carried arnica in my bag, along with The New Yorker. From my folding chair on the sideline, I never raised a racquet, we occasionally questioned a ref's call. But a civilized discussion sorted everything out.
So what's with the tough? Maybe it has to do with sports requiring helmets, the danger, the violence is heightened. Pulses race. Veins stick out of screaming spectators' necks. Not so with the leonine Frisbee player, loping and lunging to catch the lobbed disc. The greatest danger with that sport is grass stains.
According to Vicki Poretta, creator of The Mom's Guide to Sports, there are lots of differences between sports for the mom. "Volleyball is indoors, in a gym, not very complicated," say Poretta. Tennis? diplomatic. Golf, you just drop and go. Parents don't stay and watch. There are no stands, sidelines. Swimming, you sit indoors in a cozy warm arena, knitting. Stressful? Only when your child's goggles fill with water.
Now softball and baseball, those tend to last long. Many late afternoons are spent sitting in chilling rain, no chance of getting a home-cooked meal into the little sluggers. And what about the car? Trashed from spilled take-out food, mud, smelly uniforms? And don't even talk about cranky losers. "Would you mind not kicking the seat?!"
Also, imagine the organization skills of any sport Mom, as she plans drop-offs, pick-ups, sometimes at various locations. Practices, home games, away games, sometimes out of town, travel plans. Fridges full, fridge door papered with schedules. Cooler in car filled with snacks, liquids.
So any sports mom really has the patience of a saint, the brains of an air traffic controller, and any one of us, with a bit of coaching could be qualified to throw on a dash of lipstick (and liner) and run for office.
Join us next week when Ballet Moms take on the Senate.

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