I spent this past weekend basking in the sun and sand on Montrose Beach. My daughters were in a beach soccer tournament and it was all about fun. Or so I thought.
My ten year old is an incredibly passionate player and works on her skills every day. She also plays with a great group of friends and we're like one big happy family so the summer tournaments are more about enjoyment than intense play.
The girls sailed through the weekend undefeated and onto the finals Sunday afternoon. The game got off to a rough start when the other team's parents took over the sidelines with dozens of chairs - they brought out the masses for the championship. Our parents worked their way into pockets of space and I stood down the line close to our goalie. It was an intense game from the beginning. Cheering, yelling, the opposing team scoring right off the bat. Then the play that turned my quiet support into craziness occurred.
Our goalie made a great save and she went to throw the ball back into play when the ref said the goalie stepped over the line that she needed to stay behind marked by cones. There was an uproar of protests, when the ref took a closer look at the cones, one of the opposing team's parents stood up and moved the cones closer to our goalie. So essentially what that parent was doing was giving our goalie a small field of play and telling the ref, "See, the cone is way back here - the goalie stepped over the bounds and we should get a penalty kick!!!"
Here's where if I could take something back, I would. I freaked a little. I think I said 20 times, "HEY - you can't move the cones. You can't touch the cones. You're not allowed to touch the cones!" I stormed over to the other side and told the ref - "HE MOVED THE CONES!" The ref basically shrugged her shoulders. My husband (the coach) kept telling me - there's nothing you can do, just chill. So I went back and told the guy, "You can't move the cones." He just looked at me.
Why was I the only one bothered by the cones? I think the part that frustrated me the most was that a parent was willing to cheat in order to help his team win. But instead of simply pointing out to him that it wasn't right, the attention went to me because I was seen as the crazy woman ranting about the cones.
I go into every game telling myself this is just fun and to only encourage, not get defensive with any plays, parents, refs or unfair players. It almost all works out in the end fairly balanced. For the most part, I can watch with a relaxed excitement and know it's just a game, but that parent really bothered me. Even after play went on and they did get their penalty kick, I still couldn't put to rest the fact that their parent cheated and moved the cones. I wish I could have just stated the obvious once, then went back to the game and enjoy watching the kids play. Why is it that youth sports seems to bring out the stupid in so many people? Do we think that maybe the kids can't speak for themselves, so we make fools of ourselves by yelling at refs and other parents?
I'm not exactly sure what it does to the human brain when injustices are served, but I'm vowing to keep my mouth shut and just use all of it as a learning experience. Except for extreme circumstances, bad calls are made both ways and the other team is not the only one pushing.
Karma did occur that day when our goalie blocked the penalty shot. Ultimately our girls brought home the medals, but I can't help but look at the win with a little cringe of regret for going crazy.
But dude, you really shouldn't have touched the cones.