Dear Athletic Support: I used to be one of those parents who made it to every single one of my daughter’s sporting events. That all changed this year. Our life was uprooted by the pandemic. I ended up having to pick up an extra job, and because of that, I’m no longer able to go to her games like I used to. It’s been hard, but it’s also been eye opening. There was a lot of judgment in my heart before. I can remember sitting in the stands, cutting my eyes to see which parents were there and which were not. There was a lot of pride involved, that’s for sure. I took pride in knowing I was there for my daughter, but now I see that it’s more about circumstances. Do you have any suggestions about how I should try and balance this out? I won’t be able to go to as many games as I used to, but I still want to try and make it when I can. – Working Mother

Dear Working: Albert Einstein famously said, “Everything is relative.” And in case you’re wondering, yes, parent attendance at youth sporting events falls under “everything.”

A parent in the stands means a world to a kid, but so does a parent out busting her hump to make ends meet. Granted, a kid might not see it this way. At least not right now, but eventually, your daughter will realize the sacrifice you made to work two jobs, provide for your family, and still make it to a couple games.

For all the parents out there who are able to attend every game – enjoy the moment. Life can come at you fast. So be thankful for the time you’re able to devote to your children now. But most of all, don’t judge the empty seats around you.

Dear Athletic Support: Why don’t high school football coaches and referees have to wear masks on the sideline during games? This kills me. I see coaches standing face to face with players, screaming into huddles – and they’re never wearing masks! Then I turn on a college or NFL football game and everyone is wearing masks. Why isn’t there some sort of universal protocol for this, especially since we’re talking about kids! – Masked Out

Dear Masked: Many of my dearest friends are high school football coaches. I speak with them weekly. I can’t tell you how many hoops they’re having to jump through to make this season possible. And from what I can tell, most of them are wearing masks on the sideline. Best I can tell, they’re required to.

So it comes as a shock to me that you’ve seen coaches without masks. The last thing any coach wants is for his team to have to quarantine. The coaches are itching to play, just like the boys.

Regardless of your opinion regarding the pandemic, lives have been lost. I’d be willing to bet every high school team in America has at least one player who’s lost a family member or friend. These days, a mask is more than just a piece of protective equipment – it’s also a sign of respect.

Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author of the BOOKS MAKE BRAINZ TASTE BAD series. Send questions for Athletic Support to or use the contact page on

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