By Karen Stysley
When Jenny Harding signed her 4-year-old son, Cole, up to play t-ball, the list of things he needed was simple enough: tall socks, cleats, glove, and a bat.
“Yet every one of the items was so challenging for me,” says his mom, Jenny Harding of Pasadena. Harding and her British husband were clueless about the game going into it—so much so that right before his first game the mom was in a quandary about as basic a detail as how far to pull up his socks, she says.
“I was baffled what to do with the socks. If they were pulled up high, he looked like he was supposed to be playing golf in the 1930s,” says Harding, who did not want her son to stick out like a sore thumb.
It took a phone call to family in South Carolina to put her mind at ease, so that Cole’s first game went smoothly—socks and all.
When kids start playing sports, it can sometimes be more difficult for the parent than the child. The parents must suddenly develop an expertise in sports rules and etiquette, which may be particularly difficult if they have never played the sport themselves.
Jeff Porter, Sports Supervisor for Anne Arundel Council Department of Recreation and Parks, says he recommends that parents familiarize themselves with the rules and regulations of their children’s sports before the season begins.
“If everyone understands the rules, it makes it a whole lot easier for everyone involved,” says Porter.
Parents can help keep the kids from getting confused and understand the calls made by the referee on the court or field, he says.
Cole Harding went on to play soccer and now, at age 6, is going into his second season. Before it starts, Harding is making sure to brush up on the rules. She says knowing about a sport helps parents feel more integrated in the sports community—which is important when spending so much time at practice and games.
“As a parent, you have to be able to talk the sport like you [talk about] the weather… otherwise you are just sitting there in the car on your iPad,” she says.
She recommends using everyone from other parents to clerks at stores as resources for sports know-how.