There are few things more excruciating than watching your child play a competitive sports match. The discomfort is palpable in both the physical and emotional sense. In Southern California, at least, there doesn't seem to be any sport that is immune to piercing, numbing heat that remains unmitigated by sun umbrellas, canopied chairs, chilled sports drink, or attempts to watch from a shaded spot behind a tree. Then there is the stuff: gear, balls, chairs, food, water, siblings, siblings' stuff, gear, stuffed animals, spouse's forgotten jackets (which will never be used), cameras (ditto), lugged and laboriously set up at the exact point where prime viewing and possible shade might for a moment converge, hopefully when your child is in the game. The awkward small talk, the forgotten names of other parents, the squelching of urges to second-guess the coach by shrieking out some uninformed bit of strategy advice.
But the sweating, frayed nerves and social faux pas are nothing compared to the sheer terror and worry that comes with your child competing in a game. I'm not sure whether it is worse being at the game itself, or being at home waiting to hear, but the hours spent waiting for the game to conclude without major injury or humiliation is interminable. If I am at home waiting, or late to the game, I tend to not ask the score to foster the illusion that the fun and participation are all that are important. And while I do believe that, I believe it more when my child's team wins and when my child has a positive role in said victory. Watching your child play, mentally taking note of how many sincere-sounding unsolicited cheers your child gets from other parents, hoping your child will block the shot or score the goal.... it is not for the weak. In games, like soccer, that have timed periods, I will often close my eyes or stare at a distant object toward the end and just hope I can will the game to come to a quick ending before a slim lead is overcome or my weary, sweaty child collapses out of sheer exhaustion.