This post is for the commiseration of parents of soccer children and those who remember being a soccer child “back in the day.” Faithful readers that don’t fit into either category may want to amuse themselves with this clip.
This fall my daughter decided to once again play soccer. Before you all get too excited remembering your first seasons of organized sport, let me warn you that soccer now bears only the slightest resemblance to the game we all tried as children. When we were kids no one knew very much at all about the sport except that you had to kick the ball into your opponent’s goal. Interestingly, this was all the information that anyone needed to have fun and we always left the field (we didn’t know then that soccer fields were called “pitches”) dirty, sweaty, and elated. Today, however, it is not nearly enough that a parent volunteers to coach a team; that parent must also have exhaustive knowledge of the latest tactics and counter strategies for the Under 10 bracket or barring that, personally know the program coordinator in order to be awarded a small platoon of hyperactive 9 year olds.
When I was a kid our “soccer uniforms” were cotton T-shirts with a number and the name of the local business that sponsored us by buying them. Most of our T-shirts were even the same color! Today however, no self-respecting recreational soccer player would be caught dead in such rags. My daughter’s team is fully kitted out in the latest sweat-wicking performance materials and they even have their names on the backs!
Still, soccer is one of the oldest field sports in existence. Surely, after we get past all the nonsense it is still a rather silly game where people run around really fast and kick a ball. If Only! My daughter’s team has 3 coaches and they space themselves strategically around the field so that the players can hear them shouting helpful instructions like, “Run Faster!” and “Kick the ball!” at all times. Is it really possible that anyone who’s ever even heard of the sport doesn’t know that running and kicking are integral parts of the game?! I suppose they learn this behavior from the parents who will scream and shout at the referee (a teenager) over every throw-in call. Contrast all this to our parents at soccer matches who had to ask if we won and why did the referee keep blowing the whistle when Johnny Madison picked the ball up.
I suppose that all this is the price we pay for creating the next generation of American Legends. Still a little part of me wonders if everyone might not be better off (coaches, players, and parents) if the soccer players were escorted onto a field totally surrounded by a high brick wall with only a referee. The parents and coaches are left outside of the wall until the match is over when our kids can then come out and tell us how awesome they were. I’m willing to bet that they’d be sweaty, dirty, and elated.