When families gather on Thanksgiving, they will do so to give thanks for health and happiness and hopefully another year full of both.
But because this is a youth sports column, I figured we should take the time to give thanks for all the good things that make up youth sports:
The volunteer board members, who might not always make the most popular decisions but dedicate their time to make the tough ones. My rule of thumb is if you've never served on a board, you should never criticize the decisions being made.
The head and assistant coaches who volunteer their time for the sake of your children, giving them an opportunity to reap all the benefits youth sports has to offer -- and giving you a chance to enjoy watching it happen from the sidelines.
The team parent who makes all the arrangements for snacks, pictures, scheduling, re-scheduling, calling when schedules change, organizing the team party, arranging for the coaches' gifts and just about every other behind-the-scenes happening -- and ensuring each goes off without a hitch.
The men and women who arrive early to set up the venue and stay late to make sure everything gets put back in its place. Imagine trying to play soccer without lines on the field or corner flags. That's what those folks make sure never happens.
How about that person in the concession stand who has your coffee hot when you arrive and your hot dog ready to go when it's time for lunch? And I don't necessarily mean just the parents volunteering their time as part of their "obligation" to the league, but the person who organizes them and is always the first one in the concession stand and the last to leave.
While many referees are paid to do the job, many are not. And even if they are, it's not much.
And finally, most of you reading this are most likely parents of youth sports athletes. And it's you, in most cases, who fill the roles above. Without dedicated parents -- whether it's the board president or a single mom with three children who somehow figures out a way to get her kids to and from practices -- there would be no youth sports.
All the parents out there deserve the drumstick on the turkey as far as I'm concerned.