My kids play soccer. They play a lot of soccer. In fact, over the winter break, I attended nine tournaments that came to a total of 32 games. I'm a huge fan. I use to have soccer tourrettes where I would randomly yell out things that I had no control over, like telling someone they needed to switch the field or SHOOT! In the past year or so, I've gained a much better control of the situation and really just enjoy the game. I still get into it, but I internalize the poor plays and keep negative thoughts to myself. In fact, because I've been clenching my teeth so much during games, I actually cracked two of my teeth and my dentist would like me to wear a mouth guard. I'll be the only adult non-player wearing a mouth guard at games.
Due to my recent realization of my vocal behavior on the sidelines, I've been very quiet and calm during games, which has allowed me to listen to some of the parents. It's not so much the cheering and applauding - I love that, and the kids love that too. It's the absurd things that come out of parent's mouths while they're watching the game. I became so appalled at a tournament in Schaumburg, that I started writing down some of the better gems:
STOP SMILING! What do you think you're doing out there smiling?!?! PLAY, DON'T SMILE! Hmmmm, what does the word PLAY usually entail if you're doing it right?
Well THAT was STUPID! You need to start playing GOOD! This number came from a mother sitting behind me. I did turn around and tell her, "I believe the phrase should be Playing Well or Correctly. Who's stupid now?" She looked at me stunned and I believe she was trying to come up with a comeback, but I guess she was too stupid to think of one.
Stop being SO LAZY! Start running to the ball! I'm sorry, but the only thing I've seen your fat ass do is get off your lazy-boy chair and go to the concession stand to get more cheese for your nachos.
MY GOD - STOP passing the ball to him, he loses it EVERY time. Do you think that kid can't hear you? I could care less if you think it, but shame on you for saying it.
YOU ARE AN F#%*ING A$$HOLE REF! Learn the rules of the game! This was said to a boy that looked like he was about 17. 3v3 soccer is very fast and it's difficult to see everything. I've also gotten angry at refs, but only if the game is getting out of control and kids are getting hurt. Other than that, I do everything in my power to keep my mouth shut during a game. Bad calls are definitely made, but in the end, they tend to balance out.
TAKE OUT the girl with the red headband! This mom wasn't asking the girl to be taken out of the game. She was telling her daughter to hit the best player on the other team. I do believe this mom wanted her daughter to hurt the girl on the opposing team so they had a better chance of winning. I'm a fan of kids playing tough, but to intentionally tell your kid to take someone out?!? I wonder why there's so much violence in the world today.
WHY DO YOU KEEP TRYING TO KICK IT INTO OUR OWN GOAL??? GO FORWARD! This one cracked me up. It was during a U8 game, so I'm assuming it was a new parent to soccer. The player was simply making a back pass to their own player behind them. I didn't say anything, I giggled and waited for them to hopefully yell, "BOOT IT!"
Your kid is dirty - you need to pull them off the field. I watched one parent say that to another parent on the opposing team. It had potential to get very ugly, but the intelligent opposing mom said, "I usually let the ref call the game. Maybe you should too."
QUIT CRYING like a GIRL and GET UP! I'm not a fan of the overzealous parents that excessively worry every time their child gets a bump. I knew a mom that actually ran onto the field every time her daughter fell. However, this is the extreme opposite. What exactly is it that you're trying to teach your child by yelling at them when they're hurting? Some kids need a little tough love, but not going overboard on attention is usually much more effective than screaming at them that they're a baby.
START PLAYING BETTER, OR I SWEAR WE'RE GOING HOME! Yes, Please. Leave your child here, and you just go home.
I've been sidelined from the cheering for a while, but it's been incredibly enlightening and has made me realize that the best parents are the ones that encourage all the kids. Nobody wants to watch games in silence, but all our kids really want to hear is the positive. They don't want to hear everything they're doing incorrectly. What if when you were preparing dinner, your kids were all standing there screaming, "OMG - You put WAY too much salt in there!" "Can't you open the beans AND chop the salad at the same time?" "HEY - there's partially hydrogenated oil in this ingredient, what are you stupid?" In the mean time, you're doing the best you can with what you've got. You're trying. Just like your kid. They may not be perfect, and they probably will make a ton of mistakes. So will the other kids. But they're out there and they're trying. They simply can't hit it out of the ballpark every time. Sometimes I make a great lasagna, and sometimes I throw bagel bites in the microwave. I don't always do my best either.
Whatever the situation, just remember the bigger picture. It's a game. It's suppose to give them great life lessons and memories. You don't want the snapshots of their youth to be filled with images of you screaming at them or the ref. And if you can't control yourself, clench your teeth until you crack a root - then you'll have no choice but to listen to how you USE to sound and maybe then you'll be able to sit back and smile and truly enjoy your child because when you know better, you do better.