Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Why Soccer Parents Are The Way They Are, Maybe

Dear Nomar,

Let me say up front that I know all the good things soccer parents do. I understand the financial and time commitments they make so their children can participate. I'm fully aware of all that. But, too many are out of hand, and I've come up with some reasons.

1. Moms missed out on a lot: Let's say the typical soccer mom is between 30 and 50 years old. So they were ages 10-15 in the 70s and early 80s. If their son or daughter is exceling in soccer, chances are pretty strong mom was a good athlete. But mom didn't have the opportunities to advance in a sport, any sport. Certainly not soccer. So, like any mom who loves her kid, she wants her child to do things she missed out on. So she is intent to push her child to acheive things she never did.

That's all well and good. However, there is an abundance of moms who had some opportunities but did work hard enough for them. And they are just now figuring that out. Those are the scary moms. For whatever reasons -- usually cultural circumstances that involve their own parents -- they bowed to the social stigma surrounding girls and sports in their era. They may have been a tremendous athlete, but didn't pursue it because girls didn't do that.

Listen to Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly for a bit and they will use the same phrase -- "No one ever told me I couldn't do something because I was a girl." That's the important message, not "Don't make the same mistake I made, we paid for that personal trainer so you need to work harder."

2. The many faces of soccer dads: This is a little bit broader topic. There area many kinds of soccer dads. But generally speaking, the amount of overthetopness soccer dads display is directly related to their athletic experiences growing up.

First, you have the non-athlete, peripheral sports fan. They are generally quieter, less intense and successful in life. They make sure their kids' lives are balanced and they probably lean more toward academics than athletics. Their kids will miss practice and sometimes games for academic-related activities. I like these people a lot.

Then there is the sports fan dad. They probably played some sport at a pretty high level, maybe even collegiately, albeit on the bench. They listen to college football and basketball games on the radio at soccer games. They understand sports and can relate soccer to others sports in ways that are useful and hard to argue with. However, they also don't always understand the technical side of the game and the requirements needed to play. That makes them impatient and dangerous. They will say things to coaches like, "You need to have a practice where you teach the kids to get their heads up." Well, you can't do that because half the kids have an awful first touch and they spend three touches chasing the ball, so of course their heads are down. Or, he'll say, "They aren't hitting any through balls. Tell them to hit through balls." Well, let's back up and teach them to first recognized where opportunities exist for through balls and teach them the runs to make to create those opportunities and the supporting angles needed. The worst is, "We need to work on throw-in plays." Well, that's just stupid.

Then there is the high school superstar, usually the big fish in a small pond. More accurately, the biggest goldfish in the tank. They know it all. Their kid will probably play for three different clubs by the time they are 15. Then they will quit altogether. No coach will be good enough, and they will be very vocal on the sidelines. Their kid will be a yellow card magnet because of his/her mouth and the dad will think every ref has a vendetta against his child. They won't listen to professionals who have 20-30 years experience, but they live their lives according to Dean Smith, Coach K or Bill Parcels.

And usually, their kid isn't all that good.

When I think of more, I'll write.

Thanks
You know who

16 comments:

Oscar M. said...

HI - i found your blog via a link from On the Pitch. Can I add your feed to my aggregator at http://www.soccerblogs.net/?

Old Soccer Guy said...

Sure. I'm not exactly sure what that means, but it sounds like a great idea. Is that the thing I have on the top of the right-hand column of my blog? If so, yeah, that would be cool.

Forgive me, I'm new to this blogging stuff.

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