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mea culpa

I'm going to lower my blood pressure by watching my three year old nephew play in his first soccer game. First, I have to correct an oversight. It was Scott Burgess who was the inspiration for my PETA post the other day. I feel awful that I forgot to credit him, so do me a favor and go visit his blog? Please?


This is the first year since 1987 that I haven't had a child involved in soccer - at one point, all three of the kids were playing (two on traveling teams)....that season is a blur in my mind, but I managed to be at almost every game.

I've coached soccer, volunteered as a referee coordinator, and acted as team statistician....suffice it to say, I like the game. I'm going to miss it.

You'll enjoy watching little ones play the game; it's more like watching a cluster of bees swarm aimlessly over the field, while the ball occasionally squirts out from the tangle of feet and legs encased in shinguards that cover not only little shins, but knees and thighs as well. I coached U-6 and U-8 age groups, and watched as my kids moved up the ranks and honed their skills through to competitive leagues and high school teams. A well-played soccer match, with a team that truly understands and executes passing skills is a joy to behold.

My younger son got his referee certification and worked for two seasons, earning up to $40 every Saturday, but he finally quit in frustration one year because of the behavior of the parents - not because they would question his calls and knowledge of the game, berate him, and accuse him of having no experience or training - all this being said of a kid who, at that point, traveled the state to play in tournaments and whose team took 2nd place in the Northern California District Cup tournament - no small achievement.

The reason Cary couldn't stomach being a referee any more was the way the parents treated their children - the screaming from the sidelines, the criticism, the haranguing and constant demands to "get the ball!! Go!! Kick it!! What's the matter with you??? Move!!! Go to the ball!!! Don't just stand there!!!".

And the worst offenders were the parents of the 6 - 8 year old kids. Cary said he couldn't stand it anymore....he could see how hard the kids tried, and knew as a player that the game is much different from the sidelines than it is on the field. He saw the determination and effort put forth by these little guys and girls, and saw their shoulders slump when Mom and Dad never noticed anything good about their game - only the bad things - the missed play, the bad throw-in, the weak kick.

Someday, that boy is going to make a great dad. He understands that using shame as some perverted form of encouraging improvement was wrong, just plain wrong.