Youth soccer thuggery'The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any.'
It looks like youth soccer thuggery is not limited to the United States. This article in the British Guardian reports that: boys' and girls' football [soccer] leagues across Britain are in turmoil because of abuse and violence by overwrought parents. Games are being abandoned as referees are assaulted, brawls break out and players are left in tears.
So much for sports as amusement, as a fun activity.
The problem is now so bad that officials who run children's teams have written to hundreds of thousands of parents warning that errant clubs could be fined up to £2,500 [US$4700], or even shut down, because of misbehaviour.
The English soccer federation, The FA, is now investigating around 100 cases in which adults, often parents, abused or attacked players, officials or the parents of youngsters on the opposition team. Parents have been disciplined for getting so excited they end up shouting or swearing at their own child.
'Some parents have been banned from attending matches because of their behaviour, such as striking a player or a fellow spectator,' said a spokesman for the FA. 'Very often these parents are competitive and passionate about their football and want their child to do well. Unfortunately they don't understand how their actions can harm their children's progress or enjoyment of the game.'
The spokesman is very diplomatic. These parents are idiots who don't have a clue. In youth sports, if a parent is more upset about how the game unfolds than the player on the field/ice/court, then something is seriously wrong with that parent.
I coach youth soccer. I am competitive. I go into every game hoping my team wins and trying to make it happen. But not at all costs. I'd love to win a lot of games and trophies, but I don't need them to know I'm a good coach. I don't need them to enjoy what I'm doing.
Ultimately it's about helping the kids improve as soccer players. As for these nitwit parents without the tiniest shred of perspective, who are trying to live their dreams through their kids or selfishly seek some reflected glory, they are the ones who ruin it for the kids. They are the ones who end up pushing their kids to quit the sport altogether in disgust.
Ice hockey great Ken Dryden once said, "Sports may build character, but more often, it reveals it." He was referring to athletes.
But the sentiment could just as easily apply to their parents.