Guest blogger Robin says the soccer moms and dads are often worse than the kids when it comes to teamwork.
When my boys first started playing soccer, I thought it would be a great opportunity for them to get a little exercise, have some fun, and learn about teamwork.
Hmm. As we enter our second year of organized sports, I think it's the parents who might need to learn these lessons.
My kids play in AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization). It's a national, nonprofit soccer association. Parents are expected to volunteer as coaches, assistant coaches, referees and team parents. Basically, if you volunteer, your kids are guaranteed a spot on a team; there are usually more players than spots available.
Typically, you get many, many parents who don't want to do a thing. You know, they just want to drop off their kids at practice, let someone else watch them, and pick them up after practice. These same parents, of course, will be the first to complain when they don't like something.
Last year, my then 6-year-old was playing on his first soccer team. Our coach was awesome! We had an assistant coach who was fabulous, and my husband was our ref. Coaches and refs have to endure several hours of training and background checks, so it's a real commitment.
We also had a family who did nothing to help, yet the dad was very verbal when he didn't like a call (despite the fact that this league is "noncompetitive"). He also paid his son for goals, assists, corner kicks, etc. Sure, the kid could play, but he was motivated by his dad's checkbook (despite being only 6). I wonder if David Beckham's parents paid him for goals when he was a first grader?
A friend's son plays baseball in our local little league. Baseball people in my suburban town are, for lack of a better term, nuts. She told me that during the season, some parents "secretly" invited certain players to "secret" tournaments. They're all hoping their little slugger will be the next major league player and they will do anything to undermine the competition. Hello, they're 7 freaking years old here! Give me a break.
So, how do you stay out of the political junk and let your kids have a good experience? You don't. But you can be smart about it.
Volunteer so you can see what's going on. Stick around at practices. Learn the rules of the game. And finally, be sure to explain to your kids that sometimes, adults can be just plain obnoxious and not to let any heckling get to them while they're on the field.
Unfortunately, this isn't the last time they'll encounter jerks in their lifetime. But I just wish they didn't have to deal with people like this in a game that's supposed to be all about having fun.
Have you dealt with "parents from hell" on the field? Tell us about it!