Parents vs. non-parents: a poll on attitudes towards the game on Saturday

Submitted by Wendyk5 on December 2nd, 2013 at 9:05 AM

After reading almost every post on the game over the weekend, and seeing the big disparity between those who thought it was great game despite the loss and those who thought it was a terrible game because of the loss, I started wondering if there was a difference between parents and non-parents, especially parents with kids who play sports. 

I thought it was a great game and that there's a lot to be learned from the experience. I still feel positive towards the experience, and even though I now wish we had run a different play for the 2 point conversion, I'm not letting that color my whole sense of the game. 

I'm a parent of two kids who play sports, and have seen my share of heartbreak through their eyes, plenty of crying, plenty of "I'm never playing again," and have had to pick them up off the ground after playoff games that could have been won if only.....


Just curious...


turd ferguson

December 2nd, 2013 at 9:25 AM ^

My sense is that she's thinking non-parents are more bottom line oriented (win/loss) and less forgiving of a hard fought loss. My guess is that there's some truth to that, though who knows whether people are forgiving because they have kids or because the types of people who have kids are more forgiving.

Even if the observation is correct, I'm sure there are many, many exceptions here (in each direction).


December 2nd, 2013 at 10:54 AM ^

I think that a poll of parents would tell you that your perspective on a LOT of things changes once you have a child.  When I was younger, single, and childless, whether or not Michigan won would determine my mood for days if not weeks, and it seemed critically important. Now, I have real life worries and pressures which make the game seem less important, plus the fact that I can enjoy the fact that I am watching a great game in the company of my kids, all of us healthy and happy makes it hard to get too upset about the outcome.


December 2nd, 2013 at 9:15 AM ^

I thought the game was entertaining to watch, but I found myself frustrated at the same time.  I couldn't help but notice the different type of offense that I was watching be successful.  Against Penn State, where were these screen passes and quick outside throws? 

At the end of the day it was still a loss and it was painful to know that Ohio State had a guaranteed 5 yards anytime they'd hand the ball to Hyde.  While the game was entertaining, I am not sure why so many people seem to be enthralled with it.  If only we had gone for 2 against Illinois a couple years back.


December 2nd, 2013 at 11:11 AM ^

did everybody forget we were in position to win the penn state game repeatedly? we were up a touchdown with like a minute left, could have won in overtime repeatedly and yet we still complain about the offense even though they did enough to win. penn state just made the plays they needed to and gibbons missed kicks. 


December 2nd, 2013 at 9:17 AM ^

I'm not hoping for that. I've noticed a subtle change towards winning and losing in myself as I watch my kids get older, and deal with the stresses of playing competitively. 


Edit: response to M_Jason_M


December 2nd, 2013 at 10:06 AM ^

First, I don't believe my being a parent has anything to do with my perception of the game Saturday.  I also don't believe any satisfaction I got from the game has anything to do with what it may portend for the future of the program.  The game stands alone.  Michigan played valiantly, we had a far better offensive gameplan than all season (where have the screens, bubble screens and slants been all year), and we made the right and courageous decision to go for two.   Oh, and OSU may not be as good as we feared--at least defensively.

But second, regarding your kids getting older and winning taking on greater importance:  that will only become more so, and it is natural as they are engaged in more competitive games.  At some point having a cool uniform and running around won't cut it for your sports child and, as a result, for you as well.  One day you will be sitting in the stands reminiscing with your fellow parents about how much fun (and funny) it used to be when your kids were young--and how nerve-racking it had become.  It just is.


December 2nd, 2013 at 10:19 AM ^

My son has played many sports, but is now focusing on baseball. He's a pitcher, so if he has a bad game, it can be the focus of the loss. If he plays third base and makes one bad play, it's forgotten with the next good play. But letting in 5 runs in an inning isn't forgotten that easily. So I've had to adjust my own competitiveness, take myself out of the equation completely and just be there for him. The older he gets, the more aware he becomes of others' expectations. As a little kid, I don't think you're aware of that as much. Now he is. When I see Devin Gardner in press conferences saying he let his team down, I get that now in a more profound way. 


December 2nd, 2013 at 10:36 AM ^

"But second, regarding your kids getting older and winning taking on greater importance:  that will only become more so, and it is natural as they are engaged in more competitive games.  At some point having a cool uniform and running around won't cut it for your sports child and, as a result, for you as well."


I've actually to some extent found the opposite to be true - the longer my son plays and the more competitive HE gets, the LESS I care about winning.


When he was playing non-competitive sports and had little desire to win - I felt a need to instill that in him. Now that he plays competitive sports and is himself somewhat hyper competitive my level of concern with winning and losing is reduced.




December 2nd, 2013 at 10:49 AM ^

you can do that.  But as winning became the predominate goal for my son/daughter,  I could not help but follow--as I wanted what they wanted.  That doesn't mean, of course, that you abandon your responsibility as a parent to try to put sports in perspective for them--particularly when there isn't winning.  And shockingly, neither of my children went undefeated each year.


December 2nd, 2013 at 9:20 AM ^

I remain shocked - in a good way - that Michigan took OSU to a photo finish.  Obviously I wish they'd won, but the outcome was a lot better than I thought it would be (I didn't think Brian's 39-0 prediction was crazy at all).  It was a great game to me, and I think Michigan won back some pride. 


December 2nd, 2013 at 10:33 AM ^

but this year and last year have given me a lot of hope that OSU's crushing dominance over us is basically over. They've had two consecutive undefeated teams which beat our 3 and 4 loss teams by a combined 6 points. The fact that we came out and played with confidence and basically punched them in the mouth (even in a loss) was an encouraging consolation prize. I don't think they're in our programs head anymore.

We looked great against them when in past years I've always felt like we were clearly the sheepish/intimidated team. (2007-2010)


December 2nd, 2013 at 9:21 AM ^

...with this observation. However, I believe you'll find that there are plenty of parents on this board who fall into your "thought it was a terrible game because of the loss" category and many non-parents in the "thought it was a great game despite the loss" camp. You might posit something similar about those who participated in HS/Club level sports.

Perhaps a better indicator of how much empathy one has for student-athletes and college teams in general is the lens one views them on the amateur/professional athlete scale. How much do we expect from these kids and what types of criticism do we feel is warranted? Because they are student-athletes, it does seem to me that in general, they are shielded from the most extreme sorts of criticism that is often directed at professional athletes. And while professional coaches receive tremendous scrutiny, perhaps college coaches receive outsized levels of review simply because the players do get the benefit of that shield. 

My observation is that the higher the level of compensation of the individual involved, the more fans believe they have a right or duty to call out that player/coach/executive/owner for poor performance.  


December 2nd, 2013 at 10:11 AM ^

I think the answer is your last paragraph. Hoke is making $3 million per year. That is Alabama level money. I don't think we're playing at anywhere near the level that Alabama is playing; therefore, the high levels of outrage at Hoke's performance. On a spearate note, the other thing is people get criticized for callling Hoke a "CEO coach" and a "cheerleader" yet he doesn't give us details about what goes on in practice and anything that does get out is highly filtered and carefully scripted and should be taken with an extreme grain of salt. People should be allowed to come to conclusions based on the evidence we have available and that evidence points to him fitting those two descriptions.

Benoit Balls

December 2nd, 2013 at 9:31 AM ^

that *in general* people with children, especially those with children of competitive age are going to be a little older, and for the most part will have more life experience which tempers their emotion in regards to the outcome of a game.  I'm a fairly new parent (2 years) but my agony over wins and losses began to wane before he was born, due to other life events which put things in perspective, and that has only increased since the birth of my son.


December 2nd, 2013 at 9:32 AM ^

I was pretty pleased with the game. Going in I was really hoping that we would have a chance to win late in the 4th quarter. That scenario definitely came in to play. I think the fact that we were down 14, and with the way Ohio was running the ball they could have easily ran away with it given how we've shown up the last few weeks. I was pretty proud that we were able to come back.


Certainly disappointed in the way the 2 point conversion played out. I would agree with the previous poster that I think it depends on how you view the players. (Pro's or amateurs). Having gone through college a few years ago, I'm fully cognizant of the fact that a lot of these guys are 18 and 19 and certainly want to lose less than any of us do.


December 2nd, 2013 at 9:38 AM ^

Non-parent here. My attitude is I wish they'd won, of course, but I saw promise: Devin Gardner is a warrior who is respected by his team and will be their unquestioned leader next year. I saw the offensive line and running game with a pulse. I am sure I am in the minority, but I honestly believe both will be better next season. I saw Borges and Hoke put together a coherent game plan. I still have to wonder about their ability to do that weekly, and I doubt Borges is gone, but maybe with a better o-line, game plans can be more what they want them to be next season. Most of all, I saw a team that didn't quit. Not before the game, when the entire college football world wrote this game off as a beating, and not when they fell behind by two scores late the third. Given the kind of season it's been, those would have been typical times for 18-22 year-old guys to say, "Piss on it". That didn't happen. Yeah, I know, "Michigan will always get up and play Ohio State tough", and to that I say, uh, 42-7 and 37-7. No, I'm not lauding this game as a "moral victory", so don't go there. I'm fed up with losing to our two primary rivals and firmly would be on board with Hoke out the door if they lose to both again next year. I don't care that they're road games. Michigan should be returning a more complete team than either of them, man up and win a damn road game. What I saw Saturday in the face of adversity (yeah, cliche alert!) tells me it can be done.  


December 2nd, 2013 at 9:35 AM ^

I have two kids who are not quite old enough to play sports, but I hated the game.  Probably because I was surrounded by easily the most obnoxious opposing fans I have ever seen personally (yes, even worse than those in the 2010 MSU game).  Like the guy behind me who said, after EVERY Michigan TD, "they aren't gonna score again! their offense sucks! they just got lucky!" or the guy in front of me who complained about EVERY SINGLE SPOT, offense or defense.  Or the guy three rows down who turned around every 15 minutes to yell 'O-H' or the guy standing in the aisle the whole game mocking every one of Michigan's cheers. I wouldn't have been a d-bag about it, but I was really hoping to get to experience the looks on their faces if we had won.


December 2nd, 2013 at 9:35 AM ^

Proud of the team. They never gave up, fought till the end, showed amazing resilience that they had not shown all year.

Would like to have won, but the above is more important to me.


December 2nd, 2013 at 9:50 AM ^

I have two sons, 10 1/2 and 2 1/2.  The older one is adopted, the younger a bio-kid.  I love both of my sons the same.  Heck the adopted one looks more like me, while the other one definitely looks like his cousins on my wife's side of the family.  But none of that matters, they are both my sons.  Don't ever let anyone convince you that you are less of a parent just because the kid didn't spring from your loins. 


December 2nd, 2013 at 9:37 AM ^

I think so, anyway, but I don't think being a parent is the distinguishing factor. More likely, it's a question of the context in which an individual puts sports (and it could just as easily be politics, religion, etc.).

Case in point: my wife, who is interested in sports (hockey and baseball) and is disappointed to see her teams lose, but a loss is just shrugged off. Politics, on the other hand ... wow, don't get her started if her "team" isn't in the White House, both houses of Congress, etc. She prepares for life as we know it to end.

I'm sure we all have a topic that sends us off the deep end. Mine is a poorly made pizza.

turd ferguson

December 2nd, 2013 at 10:06 AM ^

I think you're right, and I think people with kids are less likely to see sports as the most important aspect (or one of the most important aspects) of their lives. I have a friend who talks about how much less stressed out she got when she had kids because she gained perspective on what's deserving of serious stress and anger and what isn't.


December 2nd, 2013 at 9:38 AM ^

I'm a parent of two kids who played sports.  I thought the game was a great offensive battle but with an unacceptable outcome and which raised as many questions as it answered, including why this game plan couldn't have been used earlier.

Exciting, yup.  I like exciting games, but not as much as I like winning.  Different order of magnitude in terms of importance.

From The Rock:

John Mason: Are you sure you're ready for this?

Stanley Goodspeed: I'll do my best.

John Mason: Your "best"! Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and fuck the prom queen.


December 2nd, 2013 at 9:44 AM ^

I have a six year old boy who does not even comprehend why people would be in to sports.  It is amazing actually, he is a really interesting kid, likes legos, superheros, pretty smart, everything you would expect a six year old to enjoy, but he is oblivous to the concept that I would be interested in people running around slamming into one another on the TV.  And as a father who has been obsessed with sports since I can remember it is really interesting to observe somebody who just conceptually does not find sports interesting or compelling in the least.  It is just unnatural to me.  I guess for me as a parent it does keep things in perspective that it is just a game, and a game that some poeple really could not care less about at that.


December 2nd, 2013 at 9:46 AM ^

of sports playing child.
Hard fought game, proud of the team.
Wins & losses ARE important, but are pretty meaningless without context.

What if Michigan only had 6 wins this year but they were dominating performances against ND, MSU, OSU, Stanford, Florida State, and Alabama. . . . THAT is context.  
It's why some of us were still upset after close wins against Akron & UConn.


December 2nd, 2013 at 9:48 AM ^

I'm a parent who thought it was a great game. Not happy with the outcome but I can deal with it since I expected us to get crushed. I find I deal much better with Michigan losses in person than when watching it on TV. I think the countless instant replays of us "not executing" drive me nuts. Sitting in the big house Saturday in a section devoid of bucknuts, I dealt with the loss much better than if I had been home watching that failed two-point conversion over and over.


December 2nd, 2013 at 9:53 AM ^

Parent and thought it was a great game.  But not cause I have kids who played sports, rather because I fully expected to get curb-stomped and was very pleasantly surprised we took them down to the last play. 

Mine was more diminshed expectations vs outcome than anything dealing with being a dad.


December 2nd, 2013 at 12:37 PM ^

Did this game do anything to change your mind about the season tickets?

I suspect not. I ask because that game was, to me, one of the two best I've ever seen in the stadium. I've never cheered as loudly or as lustily in my life. The experience, outside of the failed two pointer, was exactly why I would never give up my tickets.


December 2nd, 2013 at 9:54 AM ^

don't think you'll find the disparity you're looking for. i have no kids and share your opinion on the game. kind of an insulting pov honestly.... as if child rearing is the only way to develop a mature perspective.


December 2nd, 2013 at 9:56 AM ^

Not a parent.  I thought it was a great game, and that it was 100% the right call to go for it on the two point conversion.  Does it suck that it didn't work, 100%, but it gave us the best chance to win in my opinion.  Very proud of the players, they played their asses off.

As Greg McMurty says above though, I won't watch any replays of it on BTN.  Just because I recognize the game was a great one, doesn't mean I want to relive it again any time soon.


December 2nd, 2013 at 9:56 AM ^

Non-parent here and I was electrified at the end of the game.  Yes, it is unfortunate we lost, but if you had told me we would be playing for the win on the last play of the game at 11:55 that morning I would've laughed.


December 2nd, 2013 at 9:57 AM ^

and they all loved the game, even with the loss.  attended the game with one of my sons who plays football and he had a grin on his face from ear to ear.   when we got home hours later mama had let the other children watch the game and they too, though disappointed about the loss, thought the game was very exciting.   they get the goal of sports is to build character and to have fun doing it.  

at the game the ohio people around us were fine, no nut jobs, and that probably helped too.   in fact, the only foul-mouthed fan was a regular who sits behind us who i had to remind that kids were around.   he also ran over the son that was with me, trying to get the ohio football after the PAT.  had to hold him by the collar and contemplate hitting, but he was instantly apologetic for his foolish move and i let him go.