On Learning to Be an Appropriate Spectator

I’m preparing the beginnings of a bunch of posts in my continuing quest to properly blog Summer Nationals as it happens, but a guest post over at Damien Lehfeldt’s The Fencing Coach blog triggered this impromptu post today, in hopes that it might help keep our count of spectator black cards low in Columbus.

There are actually two relevant guest posts over there.  “A Parent’s Journey to Becoming a Good Fencing Parent,” from about 18 months ago, is a great discussion of the importance for parents (and coaches, too, who are also technically spectators) to learn and act on what their kids need from them instead of what they need from their kids. Essentially, it’s what good spectators—parents and coaches—look like.

Today’s guest post —”A Diary of a Black Card“—shows what it looks like when a spectator, in this case a parent, gets it spectacularly wrong:

. . . over the weekend, I was that parent, the one who couldn’t let a bad call go, who verbally abused the bout director, the tournament director, the other team and its coach. Am I sorry and embarrassed? Yes. Is there a part of me still raging, a part that wants to argue the issue to death? Oh, yeah. But there’s nothing left to argue about: the decision on the strip was final, and out of several hundred fencers and “spectators” at yesterday’s Pomme de Terre, I was the only who displayed anything even remotely resembling poor sportsmanship.  There can be no defending the way I acted.

Don’t be this dad. Learn from him.

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2 comments on “On Learning to Be an Appropriate Spectator

  1. Hi Mary,

    Your comment, “Don’t be this dad,” hits pretty close to home. I actually am that dad.

    Thank you for linking back to the original post. I do hope sharing my experience helps someone. Though it may be hard to believe, this was a one-off aberration from a fairly mild-mannered guy. That’s what makes it so scary — that it could even happen.

    But my experience shows, at least to me, what can happen when you get too wrapped up in your own problems and then compound them by over-investing in your kid’s activities. I’ll be guarding against both in the future.

    Thanks again,

  2. Thanks for the comment. As I’ve written often before, one of the main reasons I started working bout committee was to escape the uncomfortable stomach-churning that afflicted me when I watched my own kids fence. BC work was great because I was still in the vicinity, but detached enough to be less emotionally wrapped up with their fencing. We’ve occasionally had to release volunteers who became completely distracted and incompetent the instant their kids started fencing, but finding some useful role at tournaments could not only help some parents maintain the appropriate attitude, but help the competition run more smoothly. Too many volunteers is rarely one of our problems.–Mary

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