If you ever want a glimpse at how differently
children and adults view the world, coach your
kids soccer team. Lots of parents sign their
young children up for sports for reasonable
reasons. They want them to get exercise, learn
about teamwork, maybe learn some new skills. There
are others that get their child into the sport as
soon as possible so they can someday drop their
last name and be famous for leading the US into
their first World Cup Championship.
During a game, even the most mild mannered, well
intentioned parent can sometimes get carried away
in the heat of the competition. (If you
have ever seen an Under 6 soccer game, you
understand why competition might not be
the best word). Wanting what is best for their
child, which is usually the wonderful feeling of
winning, parents help the coach by
giving directions to their own child, allowing him
to focus on the rest of the team. (If you have ever
coached, you understand why help is
definitely not be the best word).
Almost all of the players, no matter what their
fathers think, have a different set of priorities.
They want to chat with their friends (no matter
which team they are on), run around free in the big
grassy space, climb the big white net, try to do
whatever their dad is yelling at them to do, try to
do whatever their coach is yelling at them to do,
and try not to look foolishnot necessarily in
The younger the player, the more disparate the
differences. I watched a father fiercely berate his
five-year old for examining a puddle while the rest
of his team chased the ball around the field.
That is your goal! he screamed at
his poor boy. Your job is to kick the ball
into that goal, not play in mud puddles!
At the beginning of the second half, after the
teams had switched sides, the obedient child did
exactly what his father had told him to do and
kicked the ball into what was now his own goal. The
father was silent for the rest of the game. It was
a beautiful thing.
Here are some other things I have noticed (and
said) during soccer games:
Skipping is not running!
Have you ever noticed how much boys like to fall
down and roll?
Defense, no cartwheels!
You are not Spiderman! Get out of the
When I said go stand on the line, I meant
until the play started. Now you can run.
Play is suspended on account of an airplane
flying overhead and distracting every player on
I have never seen a six-year old cry because her
team lost. I have seen five-year olds celebrate
because somebody scoredeven when its
against their team.
No matter how crazy we adults get about sports,
if we pay attention to our children, we can never
forget that it really is just a game.
* * *
Women, it's true, make human beings, but
only men can make men. - Margaret Mead
Phillips is a Stay-At-Home-Dad and freelance
writer. Along with raising his four children, he is
developing a franchise called The Vacuum IS a
Power Tool. It is designed to help SAHDs
maintain that which makes us men, instead of hairy
Mom-substitutes. He earned a B.S. in
Communication/Theatre Arts and teaching
certificates in English, public speaking, and
psychology from Eastern Michigan University. After
six years as a high school English teacher and
Director of Dramatic Arts at Powers Catholic High
School in Flint, Michigan, he changed careers and
became a Stay-At-Home-Dad. www.TheVacuumIsAPowerTool.com
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