Thursday, May 28, 2009

On Being A Sports Mom

Today's feature is a guest post from Jane Schonberger, creator of the Pretty Tough site and co-founder of Women Talk Sports site. I interviewed her several months ago and she gave me her intro as such:

I’m originally from the East Coast where I attended high school and college. I began my professional life in New York and moved to Los Angeles in the early 1990’s to work as an entertainment executive. I’ve spent much of my career developing and producing content for Disney, Fox and other studios.

I’m now the mother of two daughters and as such have come to intimately understand the role of gender bias, especially in the media. I don’t want my girls to ever encounter a glass ceiling and I feel more compelled than ever to address the imbalances that exist in both media representations and real life.

Jane took the time to tell me about being s "sports mom" and the experiences with her own daughters. Read on:

I’m not a hard core athlete. Not by any stretch. When I was younger I played tennis and was on the school volleyball team. Today I still play tennis, I swim laps to relax, and I play on a Mom’s Basketball League at the local gym which is as much social exercise as physical. Even though I’m relatively active, I don’t consider myself an athlete; more like someone who likes to stay fit and has a bit of a competitive streak.

I’m not sure growing up I truly understood the value of sports. That came later, when I had my own kids. Now I’m the mother of two girls who have been hitting, kicking, diving, jumping, running and more since they were toddlers. Over the years I’ve taken them to gymnastics, soccer and track practice, and even fencing class. Watching the girls grow and become confident, capable young women I realized how transformative sports can be in a person’s life.

Along the way, my overall interest in sports kicked into high gear. As a long-time entertainment executive, my high-stress job(s) left little time for recreational activities. But I have found sports a fabulous form of family entertainment. The past several years much of my free time has been devoted to participating in or watching sports. Whether at a weekend soccer tournament somewhere in SoCal (Santa Barbara, Temecula, San Diego, Palmdale, Riverside, take your pick), a day long track meet in 100 degree heat with the Santa Ana winds kicking up dust or cheering for a state championship. I’ve tried to support my girls’ athletic endeavors. In supporting, them I became a fan, a coach, a mentor and often times a participant.

What goes into being a sports mom? Well, with more than one child there’s a lot of time management. There’s also keeping track of practices, carpools, snacks, tournaments, coaches, year-end gifts, equipment and uniforms (especially socks). It’s demonstrating good sportsmanship even when you think the coach or ref is doing a lousy job. Your kid wants to take up fencing? It’s buying all the gear, learning the lingo, and trekking to a competition that could quite literally be over in 30 seconds. It’s pumping up deflated egos after a defeat and encouraging practice without sounding like a nag. It’s also a lot of time spent with incredible families, athletes, role models, and friends.

Sometimes, I think I’ve benefited more from sports than my kids have. They take for granted their ability to participate, compete, and excel. I’ve marveled at the opportunities and seen firsthand how important the friendships and competition are to their emotional and physical growth. I’m not a frustrated athlete living vicariously through my kids; I’m a woman in awe of the fabulous opportunities afforded by sports, especially to girls. I’m not pushing my kids to become pro athletes, or even get a sports scholarship to college; I’m just loving the fact that our estrogen fueled family (apologies to my husband) so easily integrates sports and fitness into our daily lives.

So what have I learned along the way? A female athlete is not an oxymoron; in fact girls can successfully balance multiple aspects of their life. My daughters are smart and beautiful (no prejudice here) as well as tough as nails when they’re competing. They’re admired for the combination of these attributes and not judged in any way. . It wasn’t always like that – certainly not when I was in high school - but that’s the way it should be.


Lindsay said...

Great post! It's so nice to hear how positively sports have affected you and your daughters' lives. Sports were a huge part of my life growing up, and it was always so important to me to have support from my parents. I remember them attending every swimming meet - as boring as swimming meets can get at times!

Apryl DeLancey said...

Yeah, Jane is awesome! I'm so glad she did this guest post for me since I'm not a mom and not looking to be one. I was really interested in this perspective.