When soocer dads go bad.
May 6, 2001 4:03 AM   Subscribe

When soocer dads go bad. Maybe it's the geek klutz in me but I'm always a little leery when people start talking about team sports as a way to build character.
posted by rdr (14 comments total)
I recently attended my six year old nephew's soccer game. There were several very, very vocal parents but one guy in particular was not just loud, but vulgar and abusive - and that was just when he was shouting at his own kid. The guy shouting was about 5'6" and weighed in at a good 225 pounds (think "as wide as high" and you've just about got it). The son was no lightweight either and he was far from the most agile kid out there (not the worst either, mind you). The game's over, the son's team actually wins - and the father proceeds to berate the kid, all the way back to the parking lot, about how fat (!) and slow (!) and stupid (!) he was on the field...
posted by m.polo at 7:37 AM on May 6, 2001

Parents should really be banned from the touchline.

a) they're projecting their own failures onto the kids;
b) they assume they should be the manager;
c) they forget that it's a game.

In the UK, you have greater professional pressures on kids, given that they're often scouted when they're in single figures; so you get dads who want their sons to be the next David Beckham, and want them to "play up" just in case there's a scout watching. Which of course is bad for the team. It's an insidious slow-burn pressure which, if it's not checked, turns many promising footballers into cloggers.
posted by holgate at 9:05 AM on May 6, 2001

holgate, that happens in the US too, but mainly with basketball. (See Hoop Dreams for an example.) For some reason that's the only sport which seems to have tremendous pressure for promising 18-year-olds to skip college and go pro. (The other sports leagues have laudably rejected this nonsense.)

I regret not finding a sport I was halfway good at when I was a kid. (Didn't help that my Dad wasn't athletic, either. I've vowed that should I ever have children of my own ... at this late date ... I'll make sure they have a Dad to toss a ball around with.) There are benefits to individual achievement and team socialization, but these kinds of parents are undermining any of that. Why can't they see it? Worse, they're making life horrible for all the other sane parents and their kids. Parents who cross the line (like threatening a coach or ref) should be banned from the field no questions asked.
posted by dhartung at 9:22 AM on May 6, 2001

Baseball has been taking players straight out of high school for decades, and go even younger for foreign players. Pudge Rodriguez signed his first contract with the Texas Rangers when he was sixteen years old.
posted by rcade at 10:16 AM on May 6, 2001

"Some call it sideline rage"

Get real. I call it being a tool. Society has found more ways to absolve their responsibilities by having "rages" than I ever dreamt possible. Whether it's the little league sports scene or the freeway, the consequences of actions should be proper and severe.

I think I'm off to have a "latte rage" and devestate a Starbucks...
posted by shagoth at 2:27 PM on May 6, 2001

dhartung: how is skipping college for NBA "nonsense"? The kid, at worse, gets a one year contract for about 1million USD. Let's assume he only plays one year. A college graduate is expected to earn about 2 million USD over their working lifetime. So... after that one year, the NBA player is set for life, assuming that he invests it and doesn't waste it. Sounds like a good deal to me.

Not everyone should go to college. Plenty of people don't go to college and there's nothing wrong with that.
posted by Witold at 3:03 PM on May 6, 2001

witold -- that's exactly what i find so disturbing at times. the play's a game; usually that's all they know. but the fact is that most of the "plenty of people (who) don't go to college" definitely do not make 6 figures, a lot don't even make comparative wages. you're right that there's nothing wrong with not going to college. it isn't for everyone; i'll agree to that. but if a kid playing a game needs his dad bearing down on him in order for him to perform, that kid isn't cut out for sports anyway. nonetheless, lots of these dad's are just ---holes. and the ref has the right to remove him from the game if he becomes disruptive.
posted by wantwit at 3:49 PM on May 6, 2001

The NBA should impose an age limit and/or say you have to attend college/junior college. For every Kevin Garnett/Kobe Bryant, there's 50 no-names....
posted by owillis at 4:02 PM on May 6, 2001

It's difficult. One of my good friends at college was someone I met at sixth form (I was 17) who'd left school at 16, had spent two years as an apprentice at Aston Villa, and was then released. He could have tried to find a lower division club that would have taken him on, but he decided to go home, and take his A-levels. He got into the same Oxford college as me, now has a doctorate and a research fellowship, and he still plays semi-professional football for Oxford City. Of course, he was lucky: his dad played professionally, so there actually wasn't any of the pressure of a wannabe father on the touchline. Just a good coach, and personal experience of what the game actually entails.

He was lucky: talented and smart. But too many players sign schoolboy contracts in their early teens, set their hearts on playing professionally, and find themselves without jobs or the most basic of qualifications at the age of 18.

This is all getting away from the initial topic, but you have to wonder whether we demand too much, especially in sports that don't really promise much of a career past 30. You're a wise parent if you coach your son to the top leagues, a bad one if they fail. No real win.
posted by holgate at 4:20 PM on May 6, 2001

owillis: that's the point I'm trying to make: If NBA wants you before college, it makes sense to take that chance, as you'll be set for life no matter what happens. What is the point of going to college for these individuals? So they can make the school rich? So they can risk injury for those four years that will prevent them from entering NBA later on? So they can waste their time on classes they don't want to take and bum around for those four years?

On a sidenote, I played varsity soccer for quite a while in school, and in my experience, the parents were often tougher on their kids than the coach. Those people are screwed up and it shows on the field. They're probably no better at home. Also, I'm not sure if any sport can build character, but it definately teaches you work with others and schedule your time wisely. That's what I got out of it.
posted by Witold at 4:37 PM on May 6, 2001

holgate, what is a touchline? The sideline? Just curious. Thanks.
posted by a3matrix at 4:34 AM on May 7, 2001

we have to have rules to tell us NOT to hit the refs?
posted by SentientAI at 6:19 AM on May 7, 2001

yep, touchline=sideline. The ball goes "into touch" when it goes over the line.
posted by holgate at 8:11 AM on May 7, 2001

Following a link from a later post on Heinlein, I came across this quote, and thought of this thread...

"I think you have missed the most alarming symptom of all. This one I shall tell you. But go back and search for it. Examine it. Sick cultures show a complex of symptoms as you have named... But a dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than a riot.

This symptom is especially serious in that an individual displaying it never thinks of it as a sign of ill health but as proof of his/her strength. Look for it. Study it. It is too late to save this culture - this worldwide culture, not just the freak show here in California. Therefore we must now prepare the monasteries for the coming Dark Age. Electronic records are too fragile; we must again have books, of stable inks and resistant paper."
posted by JParker at 4:48 PM on May 8, 2001

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