These days there are signs up all over the place on Saturday mornings reminding us all that: "This is not a World Cup match, this is a kids' game of soccer/rugby/netball".
Some of us get a bit excited and forget that fact, apparently.
Sometimes the aggro, the intensity, the deadly seriousness at what is meant to be just bit of fun between a couple of kids' sports teams, has an unattractive element of "We Must Win at All Costs".
And the sad thing is, as parents misbehave, shouting abuse at the Ref, or as the coaches (who are trying to realise their life's ambition to coach the All Blacks) heap their frustrations on mere children, OUR KIDS ARE WATCHING.
And it's no fun for anyone anymore.
We played a match like that the other week. We're talking a game of Rippa Rugby for six-and-seven year olds, where the coach of the opposition was so worked up, he was screaming at his team at the slightest mistake. Meanwhile, his team were employing dodgy tactics, holding our players around the waist before ripping their tags.
The parents from our team were all shaking our heads and rolling our eyes, while heaving a sigh of relief that we have a coach who knows the meaning of fun - and sportsmanship.
Our coach never shouts at his young team.
When one of the boys dawdles at the back and leaves the running to the rest, does he shout? Does he sideline that lad for the sake of a win? No. He just keeps encouraging him to keep going, he doesn't let him off the hook. And the rest of the team are also learning patience with this lad, as modeled by their coach. There's no blaming or shaming.
We might have a quiet giggle at our reluctant little teammate, but we know being part of this team is doing him good.
Don't get me wrong - we LOVE to win! We actually win a lot, but all the kids enjoy themselves - win or lose. They're learning that what matters is that they try their best.
We've played in torrential rain, splatting about in mud with no subs.
We've shared our players with teams who didn't have enough, so the other team had a fair chance.
After every training, Scrag comes home crowing about how much fun he's having and how much he loves playing rugby, loves his team and his coach.
Every week those kids get better and better. They love to win and score tries, for sure!
But mostly they just love it cos it's fun. And nobody shouts at them - except for us mad sideline supporters screaming, Wahoo! when somebody scores.
Just this Saturday gone, our whole team caught the ferry to Waiheke Island to play a 9,15am game. This involved getting up before the sun rose, bundling the family into wet weather gear and getting to the other side of Auckland (while the city slept) before the ferry left the docks.
Some teams forfeit when it's their turn to travel to Waiheke. It's just too much effort.
But our coach was determined that we wouldn't let the little Waiheke team down.
So off we all went, and nobody missed the ferry.
At the other end the Waiheke mums and dads had their people movers all lined up to transport us to the rugby ground. Afterwards they put on a lovely morning tea, a sausage sizzle and even a birthday cake for one of our team members whose birthday it was.
They were so welcoming - and we were so grateful.
This is how kids sport is meant to be.
Fun, team spirit and community.
As much as winning is awesome, watching a game being played with heart and guts is even better.
Yep, I feel proud when my kid scores - but I also feel proud when he doesn't retaliate if someone on the other team is unsportsmanlike.
I like to scream and shout as much as the next supporter - but only to say, "go! go! go!"
I like to win matches and see my son score tries as much as the next mum - but I get a kick out of seeing good sportsmanship and lovely manners even more.
Kids' sport is so valuable. It teaches our kids resilience, perseverance and doing your bit for the team. It teaches them to play by the rules, to do their best and play fair.
Sometimes the grown ups can forget that. We forget that our kids watch us and copy what we do, not what we say.
It's kind of embarrassing that those signs have to be put up on the soccer and rugby pitches to remind us adults to behave. Don'tya think?
PHOTOS THIS POST: These photos were taken on Saturday at our match against the lovely Waiheke Island team, who hosted us so beautifully. Honorable mention must go to my son Scrag who ran away with SEVEN tries on the day. And yes, I was screaming then, every time: "Go my son!"