Enhancing the Relationship Between 
Moms and Sons Through Sports

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By Trish Kasey 10 Jul, 2017

If you’re a hockey fan, you know what the term “empty net” means --  if you’re a sports mom no longer watching your son play sports, you know what an "empty net “ feels like. In hockey, it means there is no goaltender in the net in order to gain advantage on the other team.  For a sports mom who has watched her son play sports his whole childhood and teenage years and then he retires – having an empty net, an empty mound, an empty court or field in front of her leaves her with an emptiness in her own heart which can only be described as having “Empty Net Syndrome.”  

Because watching my son play sports for so many years was such a huge part of my life, it was quite unsettling when all of a sudden I no longer had to launder grass-stained, mud-crusted or sweat-saturated uniforms, t-shirts, shorts and unmentionables - the heaviness in my heart was palpable. When I  no longer created snack schedules, arranged team parties/meals, boiled mouth guards (always last minute!), searched for baseball belts, hosed down shoulder pads or scraped the bottom of muddy cleats, I  actually felt a sense of sadness over the loss of these chores. Call me crazy, but what I wouldn’t give to breathe that days-old smell of practice football pants left in the car over the weekend (in the hot sun...well, maybe that’s a bit much), but you know what I mean Sports Moms.

To the best of my knowledge, Empty Net Syndrome or ENS has never been officially documented in medical (sports medicine or otherwise) textbooks, but we Sports Moms know that it is real. When I drive by our former Little League or AYSO fields, my mind is immediately whisked away to a time many years ago when the greatest part of the game for the kids was the snacks.  As my son got older and had more tournament-type play, oh what a joy it was to see his team win – except of course, when winning meant staying at the park later and later and later… Every Sports Mom at one time or another has outwardly cheered for the team, but secretly hoped the team would lose because, well, there was homework or a project at home waiting to be completed.   Outside voice: “Yes, Go Boys! You can do it, you got this game!!” Inside voice: “No, not another home run – we’re gonna actually win this darn game!”

For us Sports Moms, watching our sons play sports displays a very tangible and public way to brag on our kids without being a braggadocio. In fact,  other parents are cheering on our son as well - we cheer for each other's sons, except of course, if we feel that our  son should be in this or that position, then the internal struggle sets in – we want the team to win – yes, but if they win with the other kid (not our son) in that position, then the coach may keep him in that position. We’ve all had the thought at one time or another if we’re honest.

So, what do we do to cure ENS? Understand that...

  • It's Okay to Grieve - There's really no hard and fast cure, but don’t deny it’s there – it’s there alright and we need to grieve it. We’ve watched our sons play sports for years and years - we now have to let go of the fact that we won’t see them play in a game again and that’s okay. That was a very special season in our lives and we must cherish those memories forever, but for our sons, most likely they are moving on to college, trade school, the military or wherever their post-sports lives lead them. It’s much harder on us than on them – most of the time, they are happy to call that time “good” and leave it at that. Playing sports taught them so many valuable life skills – from teamwork to leadership and from courage to discipline and many more skills they may not even realize they learned. 
  • It's Okay to Feel Sad - Just as we were sad at Kindergarten graduation, at Jr. High graduation and most especially High School graduation – - we are allowed to feel sad about this, but that sadness mustn’t get in the way of remaining connected to our sons through the sports that they love. Most young men, who played sports throughout their lives, love to watch sports as well. If we haven’t already learned to love sports through our sons, it’s high time we do. No, you won’t be watching your own son actually play, but the more you get to know the players that he loves and watches, the more your relationship will be enhanced.   You’ll discover that watching sports with your sons can be almost as much fun as watching your son play sports himself and guess what? There’s no dirty, smelly socks involved, unless, well, some things never change or should I say some socks are never changed.  
  • It's Okay to look to the Future - Sports Grandma?  I am very fortunate to be a grandmother to a beautiful (or should I say handsome) baby boy who will hopefully want to play sports one day.  You better believe that I'm counting the years until I can watch him swing  his first bat, score his first goal and/or shoot his first buzzer-beater. So, we  may have a second or third or fourth chance to live our Sports Mom's life again.
The last 14 years of my life as a Sports Mom have been precious beyond measure, although not without headaches, heartaches, injuries and injustice, BUT I wouldn't trade any of it for the world.  To all of the Sports Moms with sons still in the game - enjoy every moment (it will be over in the swing of a bat) and to all of  the Sports Moms (like me) surviving ENS - enjoy your son and thank him for the memories.  

As the clock winds down, until next time...



By Trish Kasey 10 Jul, 2017

If you’re a hockey fan, you know what the term “empty net” means --  if you’re a sports mom no longer watching your son play sports, you know what an "empty net “ feels like. In hockey, it means there is no goaltender in the net in order to gain advantage on the other team.  For a sports mom who has watched her son play sports his whole childhood and teenage years and then he retires – having an empty net, an empty mound, an empty court or field in front of her leaves her with an emptiness in her own heart which can only be described as having “Empty Net Syndrome.”  

Because watching my son play sports for so many years was such a huge part of my life, it was quite unsettling when all of a sudden I no longer had to launder grass-stained, mud-crusted or sweat-saturated uniforms, t-shirts, shorts and unmentionables - the heaviness in my heart was palpable. When I  no longer created snack schedules, arranged team parties/meals, boiled mouth guards (always last minute!), searched for baseball belts, hosed down shoulder pads or scraped the bottom of muddy cleats, I  actually felt a sense of sadness over the loss of these chores. Call me crazy, but what I wouldn’t give to breathe that days-old smell of practice football pants left in the car over the weekend (in the hot sun...well, maybe that’s a bit much), but you know what I mean Sports Moms.

To the best of my knowledge, Empty Net Syndrome or ENS has never been officially documented in medical (sports medicine or otherwise) textbooks, but we Sports Moms know that it is real. When I drive by our former Little League or AYSO fields, my mind is immediately whisked away to a time many years ago when the greatest part of the game for the kids was the snacks.  As my son got older and had more tournament-type play, oh what a joy it was to see his team win – except of course, when winning meant staying at the park later and later and later… Every Sports Mom at one time or another has outwardly cheered for the team, but secretly hoped the team would lose because, well, there was homework or a project at home waiting to be completed.   Outside voice: “Yes, Go Boys! You can do it, you got this game!!” Inside voice: “No, not another home run – we’re gonna actually win this darn game!”

For us Sports Moms, watching our sons play sports displays a very tangible and public way to brag on our kids without being a braggadocio. In fact,  other parents are cheering on our son as well - we cheer for each other's sons, except of course, if we feel that our  son should be in this or that position, then the internal struggle sets in – we want the team to win – yes, but if they win with the other kid (not our son) in that position, then the coach may keep him in that position. We’ve all had the thought at one time or another if we’re honest.

So, what do we do to cure ENS? Understand that...

  • It's Okay to Grieve - There's really no hard and fast cure, but don’t deny it’s there – it’s there alright and we need to grieve it. We’ve watched our sons play sports for years and years - we now have to let go of the fact that we won’t see them play in a game again and that’s okay. That was a very special season in our lives and we must cherish those memories forever, but for our sons, most likely they are moving on to college, trade school, the military or wherever their post-sports lives lead them. It’s much harder on us than on them – most of the time, they are happy to call that time “good” and leave it at that. Playing sports taught them so many valuable life skills – from teamwork to leadership and from courage to discipline and many more skills they may not even realize they learned. 
  • It's Okay to Feel Sad - Just as we were sad at Kindergarten graduation, at Jr. High graduation and most especially High School graduation – - we are allowed to feel sad about this, but that sadness mustn’t get in the way of remaining connected to our sons through the sports that they love. Most young men, who played sports throughout their lives, love to watch sports as well. If we haven’t already learned to love sports through our sons, it’s high time we do. No, you won’t be watching your own son actually play, but the more you get to know the players that he loves and watches, the more your relationship will be enhanced.   You’ll discover that watching sports with your sons can be almost as much fun as watching your son play sports himself and guess what? There’s no dirty, smelly socks involved, unless, well, some things never change or should I say some socks are never changed.  
  • It's Okay to look to the Future - Sports Grandma?  I am very fortunate to be a grandmother to a beautiful (or should I say handsome) baby boy who will hopefully want to play sports one day.  You better believe that I'm counting the years until I can watch him swing  his first bat, score his first goal and/or shoot his first buzzer-beater. So, we  may have a second or third or fourth chance to live our Sports Mom's life again.
The last 14 years of my life as a Sports Mom have been precious beyond measure, although not without headaches, heartaches, injuries and injustice, BUT I wouldn't trade any of it for the world.  To all of the Sports Moms with sons still in the game - enjoy every moment (it will be over in the swing of a bat) and to all of  the Sports Moms (like me) surviving ENS - enjoy your son and thank him for the memories.  

As the clock winds down, until next time...



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