Monday, January 23, 2006

The Joy of Youth Sports

The kid's team played in the Ft. Lowell Shootout over the weekend. It's one of the larger youth soccer tournaments in the country, with 350-odd teams coming mainly from the Southwest but also from places like Alaska, Maryland, and England. Kid played very well, and his team did better than they have this season, finishing with one win and two ties, narrowly missing a trip to the finals. As usual, I was appalled by many of the parents I observed watching the games. Parents screaming at referees. Screaming at their own kids. Screaming at kids on the other team. A group of parents who ran over from their kids' game to watch the game on the other field, in which they had a vested outcome. Screaming "go white!" directly behind the red team's bench, and cheering madly when the red team failed to score a third goal that would have been decisive, howling, "finals, baby!" These kids are 13 and 14 years old. It's the silver flight (second division, essentially) of a second-rate regional tournament. Their performance was topped only by the mother of a player on another team who ran down the sidelines after him when he had the ball, shouting (in translation), "beat that little whore!" over and over and over.

The kid had been interested in playing for the "finals, baby!" team as a guest player in the year-end tournament. I don't think I'm going to encourage it. I love the coach, having worked with him in the past. The kids on the team are mostly okay, with the usual small ratio of jerks you expect from any group of adolescents, but the parents are unbearable. I wonder what they're going to do with themselves when their kids leave home (most assuredly NOT on a full soccer scholarship to a Division I school). What other channels for vicarious living will be available to them? Will dogfights and cockfights suddenly regain social acceptability?

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