Hi, my name is James and I am a youth sportsaholic.
Ive decided to admit my problem today in an attempt to learn from my past and curb the obnoxious behavior only a father can demonstrate.
Its a behavior that all fathers know too well and struggle to control week in and week out.
My troubles began a few months ago, when my 6-year old, Haley, started playing soccer. It was the first sports program she joined since we moved to Rhode Island and it was a great day for me.
You see, they say it should be a great day for her, but it was instead a victory for me, as it was a chance to relive my childhood.
I was back in my high school glory days.
Every goal scored would be a goal I didnt record in high school.
Every championship win would be a reprieve for the second-place finishes I secured countless times.
Yet a funny thing occurred to me on Saturday. Youth soccer is supposed to be for her, not her father. Her league dispenses uniforms in youth small but not in adult large.
The first sign of a problem came three weeks ago, when I decided to implement a celebratory dance for every goal scored by her team. It was a simple little number designed to show support for the athletic feats.
I would rise to my feet, high-five my fianc, spin in a circle and deliver an exuberant chest bump.
Leslie, of course was an eager participant. She stood stationary, rolled her eyes, flinched when I delivered the chest bump and quickly returned to her seat, hoping in vain no one saw my foolish display of manhood.
A week later, my behavior escalated as I would stand near the indoor soccer glass and offer advice to Haley and the defenders that played alongside her.
Attack the girl with the ball.
Haley would smile and deliver a quick hush to me as she raced for the loose ball. After the game, she would tell me she only had to tell me to be quiet six times this week.
Finally this past Saturday I couldnt make her game, but I of course managed to call Leslie every few minutes seeking updates on the big game.
How much time is left?
Are we winning?
I never asked if Haley was having fun or if the team was trying hard.
Afterwards, Leslie tells me Haley had her best game, as she played goalie and demonstrated a confidence and an excitement she hasnt shown before.
I couldnt help but wonder if Haleys success was a sign of good fortune or the confidence in her being able to play without worrying about her dad acting like an idiot.
I love sports and Im glad Haley enjoys participating. Yet I now realize Haley is at an impressionable age and having to worry about forging friendships on the field and learning the game is a challenge all to itself.
I hope to go to her game on Saturday. Ill sit still on the sidelines and smile to myself as she runs the field and high-fives her friends after good plays.
I know if I dont sit quietly, shell likely choose to sit on the sidelines with me.
My name is James, Im a youth sportsaholic and I hope my lesson can help all of us.
J. Charles Stern is a staff writer for the Warwick Beacon. He can be reached at