Sports celebrates Mom the right way


It was hard to miss if you’re a baseball fan this past Mother’s Day weekend: baseball’s best sporting plenty of pink in celebration of Mom.

T-shirts peeked out under special uniforms with the Mom-inspired color scheme. Home teams in white, visitors in grey, all trimmed in pretty pink: bats and gloves, headbands, even bases and umpires.

A florist once told me it’s their biggest holiday of the year. Bigger than Valentine’s Day because “not everyone has a Valentine, but everybody has a mother.”

Athletes probably know better than most, just how much Moms figure into their success. For up-and-coming student-athletes, it’s often Mom who serves as taxi to and from practices and sporting events. She’s probably the one who washes the dirty uniforms and cleans up the scraped knees.

But today’s Moms do more than serve as shuttle and cleaning service. Many grew up playing sports themselves, in high school or even college. They know the games better than the generations that came before them, thanks to Title IX and the vastly increasing exposure they’ve had to sports, experiences far beyond those of their own mothers and grandmothers.

Moms today coach youth sports; they play catch in the backyard with sons and daughters, and watch football with their kids on weekends. They golf and swim and run and paddle; and they understand first-hand the value that sports add to our lives; and they want their children to reap the benefits of participation.

Over the last generation, sports have infiltrated every aspect of society, drawing women into the fold like ever before.

From NASCAR to the NFL, professional sports have recognized the importance of the purse strings when selling their products. Appealing to women, especially those with children, has become a vital part of major sports’ marketing plans. They know that women buy the holiday presents, plan the vacations, and purchase their families’ clothing, shoes, and food… everything that can don a team logo or an athlete’s likeness.

But when Major League Baseball paints their Mother’s Day weekend pink, it’s more than a clever marketing ploy. The weekend’s game broadcasts were filled with tales of gratitude from players toward their Moms, some who gave up their own dreams to help their sons pursue theirs.

Sometimes it’s not until adulthood that we realize the sacrifices our mothers make for us. The hours of lost sleep, worrying about our welfare, and doing the best they can to help their children find a path to success.

This is no way meant to diminish Dads. If we’re lucky, we have a great one of each. But May is the time to celebrate Moms, and thank them for all the hats they’ve worn for us: taxi driver, cook, cleaner, cheerleader, medic, therapist, coach, and so much more.

Kudos to major league baseball for putting Mom in the spotlight. It was a home run.

Shaffer can be reached at Her column appears on Tuesdays.