Most of the recent conversations and/or text messages I’ve had with my siblings and friends lately are about their upcoming journeys to watch their child compete in high school, prep school or – in most cases – college sports events.
Just log onto Facebook, Instagram or any other social media site and see the many destinations in the country your social media friends are heading to – simply to see their kid spike a volleyball, slam dunk a basketball, or snipe a goalie.
It’s quite apparent that college spectator sports have evolved into a huge, huge business. Take Syracuse University and the construction of the Carrier Dome, likely one of the greatest happenings to the city of 250,000 in 30 years. People come from all parts of Central New York and beyond to watch S.U. football, basketball, lacrosse, and a myriad of local, state and regional games and tournaments hosted there.
Let’s not forget other events in “The Dome,” like the big- name concerts (Paul McCartney for one), Big Truck racing, and the annual New York State Field Band competition each fall, packing in thousands of spectators to see the fanfare and performances of high school marching bands from Buffalo to Long Island (The band kids will say, “what’s the football team doing on OUR marching band field?” but that’s another story, another time…).
One can get spoiled by watching football in an enclosed stadium like The Dome. This stems from a girl who grew up in a household with a father who was a die-hard Colgate University football fan (and a proud alumna who played both football – and – OUTDOOR hockey there). Week after week in September and October, we’d prepare food and beverages, then over-pack the car for pre-game tailgating. My mother, Jackie, was on board for the social aspect of it all, catching up with her “bestie” named Pat. Together, Pat ‘n’ Jax would chat, nosh on deviled eggs, and most often, huddle (and cleverly remain) inside the warm, running car while my father and I would venture over to the wooden bleachers to view the football game.
But just like the U.S. Postal Service, it was in “Rain, sleet or snow.” It was what Colgate Football was all about. Outside!
To take the chill out of the afternoon and to and pass the time, Dad explained to me what football downs were, demonstrated penalty signals and taught me the various plays of football, which, surprisingly for a young girl, I found far more interesting than my mother’s conversations. Mother Jackie would hob-nob with Bestie Pat when the next fashion show was, who got divorced, or who the new family was joining “The Club” this year (yawn).
This experience with my dad set the stage for my future as a Hockey-Lacrosse-Marching Band-Swimming-Cross Country and Golf Spectator. There is nothing better than watching your child focus on a sport they love to play, or seeing the end result of a unique skill they’ve worked on for months. My daughter gave age-group swimming a try for a year or so, but matriculated into performing arts. She spent 4 years with color guard in the state champion high school marching band (4 in a row!). So much fun to experience, and we truly admired her athletic-looking spins and dance moves, all while tossing and twirling a series of large, colorful flags.
My husband was an athlete, in marching band, has always been an avid sports spectator, but he also loves a good Broadway show or concert. Together, we have just about seen it all. We are on our way South to watch our son play in a college golf tournament, the first time in awhile – now that the weather permits and we have the time. We rarely got to see him play golf in high school as it was just one of those sports where parents and friends simply didn’t attend. Luckily, he played in some Junior Golf tournaments which took us to some beautiful courses in some wonderful cities and areas during those high school years (Toronto, Hilton Head Island, and PGA National in Florida to name a few!).
Watching someone play golf is not the most exciting thing to do, unless you’re a golfer – or your child plays golf. But seeing him crush the ball off the tee box and have it land 275-300 yards smack in the middle of the fairway will take your breath away. Watch him sink a 20-foot putt to save par can bring tears to your eyes.
So, fellow Spectator Parents, stand on those sidelines and savor the minutes your child is “out there.”
Take some video after the coach puts him on the field and he immediately scores a goal past the top goalie in the conference.
Enjoy the outdoor spring blossoms while driving to the golf course, and relish in the 18,000 steps you walked on the course during his 36-round day (in the rain, and fighting the wind).
Cheer loud and proud from the stands while she performs a volleyball “kill.”
Or – remain quiet while he does a double somersault with a full twist off the 3-meter board.
These are among the best of times for us, yet they come and go so quickly. Sure, it’s an expense, and it will always be a way for colleges to make a profit, yet it reminds me of those creative Master Card commercials from a few years ago…
Rental car: $275
College regalia (including 2 badly-needed umbrellas): $165
—Watching your college golfer son chip in for Eagle: PRICELESS
That’s what being a spectator is all about….love.