How to Avoid Becoming a Mad Maniac at Your Kid’s Soccer Game
On Saturdays, I play football with regular guys. We use whatever open field we can find. It was harder in the early fall when the youth soccer leagues began their seasons. As soon as we saw children marching towards us in the same uniform and coaches with thick textbooks, we made way. These people are evil. The parents are even worse.
The world recalled this a month ago when a Beverly Hills judge played a glorified email on his whistle that prompted parents to greet them everywhere in solidarity:
“Your aloof behavior has been disrespectful for too long and you are hurting children,” Root wrote. “You have said bad things to too many judges, and this needs to be stopped.”
Root wrote that while the “vast majority” of those on the sidelines are “wonderful people,” he added that he “despises” many criminals because of their “[despicable]” and “threatening” behavior.
“I can no longer communicate with so many people who feel entitled to such a right,” he wrote.
If your child plays sports, you have met quite a few deserved and despicable adults marching on the sidelines. The problem is so widespread that it has spawned companies trying to solve it.
If you haven’t run into game-day maniacs, I have bad news for you: it’s you. But don’t despair! You can change the image of a person in the mirror. Here’s how.
Remember this must be fun
Chances are you aren’t watching the early days of a career in the Hall of Fame. Very few athletes go to college, and far fewer athletes go pro . Of course, you miss every shot you didn’t take. But let this shot from a million be not a goal, but a fluke.
The Seattle Times recently ran an article about high school coaches helping each other in difficult conversations with parents hoping to raise a superstar. These people spend thousands of dollars sending their children to private trainers and summer camps and expect a return on that investment in the form of college scholarships. Looks like these kids are having a hell of a lot of fun!
Football, basketball, football are games, and if they are not fun to play, then they have no value. If you have the funds to hire a private shooting coach for your little ballerina, you have the funds to fund a college savings account. Let the ball game be a game and nothing more.
If you don’t know how to shout nothing good, don’t shout anything at all
Feel free to shout, “Excellent protection, Timmy!” If you find yourself crawling to the question: “How could you concede an open goal ?!” or “Ref, you dumbass!” then you’ve gone too far. Time to practice Bruce Banner’s anger management .
Several youth leagues have made this advice mandatory as part of their regular Silent Sidelines weekend. The point is to get parents to admit that life is going on, that something is happening, regardless of whether they comment on these things or not! This worries many adults, who believe that their own opinions are the fulcrum that moves the world. So shout: “Go ahead, team!” and “Great vanity!” otherwise, beg the fifth.
Do you think you can do better than this referee who makes five dollars an hour to chase clumsy schoolchildren across a half-pitch soccer field? Come on and show us, Chatterbox!
There are a thousand excuses for not doing this, but if you are serious about supporting youth sports, there is no better way to prove it than your own time. Find out how to become a judge, locally or online . Volunteer to help the coach during your workout – provided that you can do so without violating his instructions. You don’t want the Beverly Hills American Youth Football Organization to impose a rule named after you like the Lakers did to LaVar Ball .
When you experience parenting behavior from the perspective of the people who work hard to make the games happen, you will behave yourself on a play day. You will also want to practice active third-party diplomacy when other parents get out of hand.
Play your sport
Come out and sweat! This is a healthy and appropriate way to express your competitive impulses. I think a lot of angry parents showing their asses at the youth games are caught up in voyeur competition. If it rings a bell in your head, do something about it.
Better yet, have your children watch you play so you can show them to your parents. When they see you missing a pass or gaining nutmeg, they will know that you are an imperfect athlete, just like them. And they will watch you recover from adversity.
If you are unable to play your favorite sports, it is best to watch games with your children. Believe it or not, I learned the importance of this from a Duke fan. She is used to seeing her team destroy opponents, but she does it cool. When her kids get too unpleasant in their comments, she reminds them, “We are sick, but not laughing.”
Stay in the moment
Stop worrying about the traffic you’ve been struggling with. Let go of an argument you had with your spouse that seemed to be about burnt toast but was actually about boredom. Don’t make a shopping list in your head.
Just watch your child. Is she chasing a butterfly instead of defending herself again? This is cute. Was he looking at the plane and not at the soccer ball flying towards his head? What a dumbass. Win or lose, your child will wait for your reaction. A dreamy child who has lost 27 to 3 should give five and a box of juice. A crying child who has lost his buzzer after bumping into his butt needs a hug. Neither needs the roaring moron to chase the referee.
Sometimes the toast burns. Sometimes the other guy is faster and stronger. Wherever life sends you, let it be the moment you are in.