Monday, November 5, 2012

Dear Soccer Parents, Chill Out

In my spare time this semester, I am coaching Little Sis's Under-8 Girls' Soccer Team.  Despite how much I love coaching, it's the other thing besides parenting that makes me most insecure.  I have the enthusiasm and willingness, but I always wonder about my coaching skills and also Am I Subbing Out My Players Equitably.   Pondering this can keep me up at night; that's just how I roll. 

I have to remind myself that I am not judging Big Sis's soccer coach, and not just because I know him and he's my friend.  I am truly just grateful that he is willing to take on the task (as well as 10 fourth graders), and impressed that, under his leadership, his players go out and understand positions and make and save some goals. And more importantly, have fun

I imagine that the parents of my players feel similarly:  Supremely thankful that I, and my BFF/assistant coach, are willing to run around for an hour every Thursday afternoon with goofy, sometimes completely wackadoo under-eight-year-olds and make stuff up, such as drills and games called "Coach Says," while parents watch from lawn chairs.  An hour of soccer practice, by the way, is a Long Time, even with 15 minutes of stretching at the beginning and another 20 of scrimmaging at the end. And breaks for water and shoe-tieing and injuries.

Also, it's hard to reach back to one's own rec soccer days to remember cool and fun drills.  So even though this is my third year "coaching" soccer, I attended a soccer coaching clinic in September because my insecurities hadn't abated.  I learned a lot at the soccer clinic, but mostly I hurt my knee.  An injured knee is one thing it's clear I will take away from this soccer season.  While the soccer season appears to have taken running away from me. 

And yet, I don't resent the coaching or the clinic or the practices.  I continue to love them so much that I didn't even think before I responded to the email asking for coaches to volunteer for the all-star tournaments.  I didn't even think about the fact that Neither of My Daughters Will Be Playing on This Team of All-Stars I Will Coach.  This is because Big Sis plays Under-10, and Little Sis is...not so much an all-star. 

But here's what I do resent:  today we received the league "Bad Sideline Behavior" email.  The Bad Sideline Behavior email must be an annual inevitability, because I have seen various versions of it over my five-year career as a Soccer Mom.  The Bad Sideline Behavior email is directed toward the non-coaching, non-volunteering parents of soccer players under the age of 12, and it says, basically, Stop Acting Like an Asshole.  Stop Acting Like an Asshole in Front of Your Children.  Stop Yelling at Volunteer Coaches and Refs and even your own kids.  The email actually does include a part about, if the system  makes you so angry, go ahead and volunteer and fix it

Haha!  That part surely makes people angry, because people don't like to quit complaining and fix things.  In general, they don't.  Election Day tomorrow will prove that.  I know some portion of my Facebook feed will be moving to Canada on Wednesday, which is not exactly fixing things. 

But, just like the Facebook post I saw today which says, "'I changed my vote for President based on your Facebook post',  said no person ever," emails exhorting people to stop being jerks are similarly futile.  And I know this because That Email Does Not Apply to Me.  If it doesn't apply to you, you feel guilty about it and write back and say I am so sorry did you mean me?  If it does apply to you, I imagine that you get in your car and flip off the next Slow Driver you meet on the freeway.  Or write a trollish comment in response to an online article.

But what scares me is that if it applies to you, you're quite possibly my neighbor, the parent of my kid's friend, a seemingly otherwise rational person who loses her shizzle when she approaches the soccer pitch.  Something about the ubiquity of this youth sport makes everyone entitled to "coach" and "ref" and judge soccer, though only a portion of adults have played it.  The fact that there is a reality show for Toddlers in Tiaras, which highlights outrageous stage parents, and not for "Kiddoes in Cleats," suggests that parental passion on the soccer sidelines is acceptably mainstream.  Aggressive Yelling Dad and Screamy Mom seem to show up every Saturday.  My BFF refers often to Oakland rec soccer, where they had to declare "Silent Sidelines" because of overly exuberant parents.

I get some of the passion, parents; I have had to temper my own "Go go go go gogogogogogogogo gooooooooooooooooo," which is white noise to our children who are either already gooooooooooing or not likely to get up and go at all despite all exhortations.  As a coach, I've learned that talking excessively to my players on the field raises the likelihood they're looking at me and not at the ball (a few key plays missed that way!).   

So we've got to calm down, folks.  We've got to save some of this outrage and passion for human rights abuses and miscarriages of justice more consequential than a 13-year-old ref's bad call at a U-10 game. 

I can't help but wonder if we made the parents of the opposing teams' players get out and play one other for two five-minute halves, we'd humble our fans and quite possibly knock the hot air out of them before the kids play.   

Save profanity and disgust and censures and tantrums for pro sports and the players and coaches paid to endure good and bad press.  They've even got security guards at those games. 

Spare the kids and volunteers, willya?

1 comment:

Marisa Reichardt said...

Thank you for all of this. Especially this:

"So we've got to calm down, folks. We've got to save some of this outrage and passion for human rights abuses and miscarriages of justice more consequential than a 13-year-old ref's bad call at a U-10 game."