Maybe

MVC-004SMaybe its because I still look out on a soccer field and just see kids running back and forth – enjoying themselves  and their sport…pushing themselves to the limit for the pure enjoyment of playing together.  Who cares about the game and the rules and the plays??  I mean, the boy has ONLY been playing the game for eleven years and  I JUST figured out the off sides rule last spring.

Maybe its because I have a hearing loss and am generally oblivious to the calls of the refs….and the taunts of players themselves.  I enjoy watching the expressions of the players.  Determined.  Focused.  Daring. 

Maybe its because I am a Teacher and deal with children learning and modeling behavier on an every day basis.

Maybe its because the Prince has had a rocky start as a soccer referee based totally on this particular fear.  

Parents.

And adult spectators.

Please.  I can get as enthusisatic as the next parent.  I can scream and holler and clap and cheer along with the best of them.  My kids are relatively good at the game.  And its fun to watch them play.  Its exciting. 

I know that I complain alot.  The early morning or late evening or far away games are a pain.  The cold and the wet and the heat are uncomfortable at their worst.  Injuries have become more frequent as they learn to kick harder – and more accurately – at each age level.  Goodness knows the cost has changed over the years.  Costs for coaching and camps and equipment.  But not the game.  The game has stayed the same. 

Watching little kids trip over themselves as they learn to get their bearings on a smaller soccer field is a hoot.  Catching pre-teens as they dance along the burbling limits of energy on a grassy field, squirt each other with orange slices that you paid dearly for and gobble down expected snacks after each game is a pleasure.  Enjoying the fluid motions of your teenagers as they come into their own in a sport that has become like second nature to them is pure heaven.  But that’s the beauty of the sporting world.

Something not so beautiful  happened last night.

I was sitting in the middle school bleachers with a friend whose child was sitting on the bench of the opposite team.  Our children were teammates with another club for two years.  It has been almost as long since we have seen each other.  What a nice surprise.  What fun to casually watch the game and talk about our kids and how things have been going for them since we last talked.  I was sharing the fact that we loved the new club.  That my child had made some good friends.  That the team had a real ‘family’ feel to it.   That they were a considerate and happy group of families.

Maybe I missed a few rough calls during our conversation.  I noticed that there had been some rather loud cheering after a goal.  I even clapped myself as MY child had been a part of that goal.  My friend had to leave for a bit but assured me she would be back at the end of the game so our kids would have some time off the field to chat before going home.  I was content in the bleachers – watching the game and waiting for my friend.  The next thing I knew the opposing coach turned around and told parents in the bleachers to quiet down or they would be asked to go to the other side of the field behind our team. 

What?  So now I am sitting with stunned adults who were used to cheering.  The next goal, they literally screamed…and stamped their feet on the aluminum bleachers….and whistled…..and cheered.  I was sharing the score with my husband on the phone at half time when our manager approached the bleachers.  Our parents were instructed to move off the bleachers behind the opposing team to the other side of the field for the rest of the game.  Disgruntled, they did as they were told.

Now, I was in a quandry.  I was waiting for my friend to return.  I hadn’t been yelling during the game.  I decided to stay put…along with another parent…..who eventually got up and moved to join our parent group a little later.   More goals…more calls….and the din from across the field was even louder and more….determined?   So I moved as well….off the bleachers….with a rueful smile at the small group of parents from the other team.  I stood at the fence surrounding the field.  And watched the rest of the game.   Watched my child and her friends.  Running, shooting, bumping…determination filling their faces.  All the while contemplating – and worrying – how my little ‘stance’ would be interpreted by the parents who had moved across the field. 

My child and her team mates won the game.  They lined up in the center of the field – as is the customary show of sportsmanship – to high five and hand shake the hands of their opponents.  I was so proud to see all of  our girls  race toward the bench to high five a player who had been injured as well.  Good sports.  GREAT players.  Short meeting with their coach and mine headed across the field to me…and to talk to the old friend.  As we headed back to the car, a mom from the bleachers stopped me to compliment the players on our team – and particularly my child – for their ‘talent.’   Said they played a very good game.

Now, I am not one to really listen about what players choose to say to one another on the field.  My children know that we expect them to be good sports in a game.  We expect them to treat other players with the same consideration they would anticipate for themselves.  We expect them to always listen to and respect their coach.  Luckily for us, their coaches have always been deserving of that respect.   My only interest in after the game talk is if they enjoyed playing.  If not, we talk about why.   My husband handles the logistics of the game…..all the whys and the wherefores of each referee call….all the moves and the plays.   That’s their thing with him.  I could care less.

I think that’s why the incident on the benches is so very troubling to me.  Why should a coach have to tell a team to ‘not pay attention’ to their parents??  Why would people who are paying for their children to learn and enjoy a sport choose to go beyond what they would expect from their own children?   Its troubling.

Maybe I missed something while I was talking to my friend.  I hope so because for me…..it’s still about the tripping  over the ball and the orange slice wars and the fluidity of teenage confidence and motion.  I am pretty passive when it comes to sports….especially kid sports.  Its all about having a good time.  I just don’t get the rage that causes conflict  there.

Its just a game after all.

Enjoy it for what it is.

Right?

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