About a month ago, my wife and decided to sign up our daughter for soccer. After a web search, we found out there are two leagues in our area for kids under six. We checked out the two websites and it seemed that both leagues are well-run and well-liked. We also learned that, in both leagues, scores aren’t kept for the “under 6” group. One league emphasized this with their slogan, “The final score is always fun to fun!” We chose the other league just because they don’t have a stupid slogan.
I agree that scores shouldn’t be kept for the little kids, but I don’t think the final score is always "fun to fun." For the Under 6 group, I think more realistic final scores are:
“fun to slightly discouraged!”
“fun to tired and cranky!”
“fun to why were we out there chasing a ball?”
The season started last Saturday and Kate’s team had their first practice from 8:30 to 9:00. Immediately following their practice, from 9:00 to 9:30, was a scrimmage with another team. Teaching a bunch of four- and five-year-olds how to play something that even slightly resembles soccer is no easy task. It’s like herding cats…who are all wearing ridiculously huge shorts. Kate’s coach, Tom, did a good job introducing the girls to the sport and running some drills with them. At 9:00 sharp, our team was excited as they gathered on the field to play their first game.
About a minute into the game, we discovered that other team was a formidable opponent mostly because they remembered which direction to kick the ball. One player in particular, who I’ll call “Becky,” was really good. She clearly had played the game before and I wouldn’t be surprised if she has a personal trainer. Becky not only knew the rules of the game, she consistently attacked our goal with a vengeance, while her father encouraged her from the sidelines. And by “encouraged her” I mean “yelled at her at the top of his lungs.”
If you were only to listen to the game, what you’d hear would be:
Laughter from parents
Some clapping and cheering
Becky’s dad shouting things like, “JESUS, BECKY! SHOOT IT!" and “NO, NO, NO! STOP HER!”
Becky’s dad was the epitome of the super intense, overly competitive parent. The guy was saying whatever he could, as loudly as he could, to motivate his daughter to win. I was half expecting him to yell something like, “YOU WANT TO GO TO HEAVEN, BECKY? GOD DOESN’T TAKE LOSERS!”
While Becky was dribbling downfield and taking shots on goal, Kate was looking at gopher holes. To be fair, Kate wasn’t completely clueless—she had some good moments in the game—but just when I thought she was really getting into it, she ran by us on the sideline and said, “Can I get my ears pierced after this?”
After a brief “halftime”(which involved me reminding Kate that she’s not supposed to pick up the ball up with her hands) and 15 more minutes of a small herd of kids awkwardly chasing the ball, the game came to an end. As the kids walked off the field, three things were clear:
1. They all had fun out there,
2. The other team was much better than ours, and
3. Becky will go on to become a great soccer player or she’ll burn out by age 9.
Who knows whether or not Kate will become a good soccer player. The only thing that’s pretty certain is that kid is going to get her ears pierced.