Monday, October 22, 2007

Youth Sports & Idiot Parents

As you know, my youngest daughter, who is eight, plays soccer in our local league. She enjoys the game and is fairly good at it, which is why I refer to as soccergirl here at my blog. You also know that I coach her team.

As much as I know that soccergirl has fun playing soccer, I confess that I get a lot out of it, too... and I don't even really like soccer. Sadly, Dr. Einstein was every bit as correct socialogical world as he was in the realm of physics, and for all of the fun that I derive from our soccer league, it is, in equal parts, a pain in the ass.

This Saturday, Soccergirl's team, The Dynamite, played a joyful game of soccer. They played with determination and toughness, they played with a new found maturity. I swear that you could almost hear the mental "click". You know what I'm talking about, right? the mental click that anyone who has ever taught a group of students knows about. You know? The moment that you see the light come on and you know that you have made a breakthrough. Well, while the team was having that moment on the field, I was having a rapturous time on the sideline... and so were the girls' families.

So, you're asking yourself what this has to do with idiot parents?

Read on.

Before our game started, the youthful referee (who was probably 13) came to me and said "Coach, could you please talk to your team's parents before the game? We had some problems during the last game, and I don't want any parents getting out of hand." Sadly, I already knew what he was talking about. One of the teams that played immediately before us, was the culprit, and I'm not surprised. This team is comprised of some of the most obnoxious sports parents that I have ever encountered. They shout inappropriate comments to opposing players (remember, these are 8-9 year old children we are talking about here), and they try to intimidate the referees, who are just kids themselves.

I was really pissed off, but I kept my cool, and talked to "my parents" before the game started. We were playing a team coached by a guy that has a similar phliosophy to mine, in that we know it is about fun, fitness and learning for the kids.... not about winning at all costs.

My team won the game... mostly due to great playing by all of my girls, but especially soccergirl, D, and E, and a couple of others.

The girls played with patience, maturity and smarts. They were tough. They didn't quit when they were tired. It was all I could do not to explode with pride, all over the field when that last whistle blew and my warriors ran off the field to high-five with me and their parents.

Why would anyone... especially a parent, want to wreck that by acting like an ass?


Madame M. said...

I'm not sure that what I'll say will be very popular, but just because you've reproduced it doesn't mean that all your bad habits go out the window: sometimes parenthood exacerbates some of the qualities that were already there, chief among them the utter lack of maturity that some people possess. I'm sorry the kids have to deal with those horrid parents. They should be blocked access from the pitch if they'll be carrying on like that.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

We're having a huge issue locally (well, the next town over) because two parents have been consistently inappropriate in sports situations, and they were banned from school events, and then their freshman son cursed at his coaches, was kicked off his freshman football team and then was reinstated by the superintendent, at which point the coaches all quit and the Freshman football season ended. And parents are up in arms about the kid being reinstated. As in all stories, there are two sides, but it sure makes me wonder - these parents who are totally out of control, their kid who is out of control, etc., etc. We have to be EXAMPLES for our children... sheesh! And I'm glad your kids had that 'click' moment! Cool!

Julie Pippert said...

Some people think it's okay...they think it is right. It's probably what they were taught. Madame M has a point.

But so do you. Especially in your last line.

My daughter's soccer league requires us to read and sign a one page document basically agreeing to use MANNERS and SPORTSMANLIKE conduct. I am amazed you need to do this but also understand why.

I've never been a big soccer fan either but like you enjoy the heck out of the games. These little ones haven't hit that click point yet (5-6) and the games are funnier than a Ben Stiller movie (which might not be saying much to some people, but I mean really funny).

Using My Words

CamiKaos said...

Some individuals are so competitive that they can't, no won't, stop themselves. They see it as encouraging to their own child. I think it's a big problem. At this time K (who is 5 1/2) isn't involved in any team sports. She prefers singing, music of any kind, theater and reading to sports... but she has some friends who are so competitive that a simple party game (pin the tail on the donkey, an easter egg hunt, hot potato even simon says) will cause them, and their parents, to go red in the face and cheer and jeer.

You can really see in the children a learned behavior sometimes and it troubles me that the adults can't put aside their insecurities about not being the best to allow their children to experience camaraderie and good sportsmanship.

Alex Elliot said...

I wish yours was only story like that which I know. I have to say that I'm not looking forward to when my boys begin participating in organized sports. It makes me sad that I feel like this because I loved organized sports when I was a kid. Sometimes I think that what those obnoxious parents need is not for their kids to play soccer but to organize an adult soccer time and play themselves. I mean who get right down to it, who are they having their kids play soccer for? Is it really about their kids or is it because they want to be successful at playing soccer? That's great about Soccer Girl!

soccer mom in denial said...

Why wreck it? Because they can't see that their children's lives are just that - their children's. As in someone else's.

Desert Songbird said...

Sadly, some parents do live their lives through their children. It's a tragic thing to put that much pressure on a child. This week's latest local story that caught the attention of the national media is just another case of parents gone wild.

It's disgusting and incomprehensible.