A List Maker's Life: Spectator Spite

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Spectator Spite

Perhaps this may come across as petty.
In our inaugural soccer season we've developed a severe case of spectator spite.

On Saturday mornings we listen as parents (grandparents, aunts, neighbors, siblings, and friends) shout orders, direct plays, give instructions, and groan from the side line. It is simply irritating! The frustrated 5 year olds have no idea who to listen to - the coach or the entire sideline of "assistant coaches." They sulk off the field wondering why everyone is shouting at them and about them. Their unspoken nerves play across their expressions. Why are people they don't even know using their names? Why is the dad who is never even at dinner directing from the sideline?

"Keep your eye on the ball!" "Watch the goal!" "Run faster." "Get up off the grass." "Watch where you're going." "Don't touch the ball!" "Did you see that? They just scored because you were playing with your shin guards!" ...

UGH! What exactly are their expectations after three weeks of play? Are the adults that fiercely competitive? These same spectators will probably be the ones left cluelessly questioning when their little ones decide they don't really want to play soccer anymore because "it's too hard" and "it's not as fun as I thought it would be."

It's a bit hard not to take it personally. Are they frustrated with their children and their attempts on the field, or do they think we've dropped the ball on our coaching responsibilities? We are trying to teach them the basics or recreation, teamwork, and sportsmanship.

We love cheering. The kids love excitement. It's great to hear words of affirmation for ALL of our players from our audience. They are only 5! I even think clapping when the other team scores is warranted. They are just learning. It is supposed to be fun.

This is our first experience with our own child in an organized sport. Please do tell, is this the norm? Note to us: Next year, when we are NOT coaching we will be complimentary of the coaches and control our sideline comments.
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  2. Ugh! As frustrating as it may seem to you, I fear that your experience with "sideline coaches" is not a new concept. Growing up playing soccer I learned to tune out those remarks even if they were difficult to stomach. Thankfully my parents were the encouraging ones and always reminded me that "it was just a game" and to "have fun". Unfortunately, not all parents have the same viewpoint and the fun is squelched. I wish you many positive statements in the weeks to come and if you don't hear any from the sidelines then set the example and be heard! I'm sure Gavin appreciates all that you do for him. Go K2 team!!

  3. wow coach, you just scored a homerun with that. I did a little coaching too, for you and your brothers teams. Maybe you remember that I had to remind my players , first we were going to have fun, maybe we might even win a few games, we were going to learn a lot, maybe even get hurt somewhere during the season. But always remember that when you are on the field, it was the only time they did not have to listen to thier parents, unless of course they were also a coach for your team. I think kids kinda liked the idea they could get away with that. I always thought my job as a coach was to help that little guy or girl have fun learning a sport so that they would be interested in doing it again next year. Don't get too discouraged. Maybe some guilty parents will read your thoughts and "get it." They had the same opportunity to be the coach and left it up to somebody else. You tackled it they refused. Hang in there.

  4. Oh I am said glad you wrote this. I am already irritated by this and my kids aren't even old enough to play yet. At my nieces and nephews games the shouts and commands from the parents are despicable. Even my sister in law/best friend yells at other kids not her own. This makes me want to keep my kids out of sports or put them in an Amish league :)

  5. They are only five. Soccer is not a sport for them, it is time to have fun. They will enjoy the sport if there are no pressure.

  6. I don't have any kids in sports, but I coached for 5 years, and it is rough. Not because of the kids, but like you said, the parents don't even know the actual harm they are doing. Ahhh, it can be SO frustrating. Good luck. :) At least the kids have great coaches!

  7. Oh Katie - we had the same trouble with our team we coached when Nathan was 5. It was impossible to know if all of the kids would even bother to show and then we tried to direct them and based on parents shouts and side comments we felt we weren't doing a very good job. I tried coaching t-ball in the spring after that and it was even worse. Kids would throw dirt in each others faces and not one parent would step up and say anything to their child... as if I was there to coach and babysit. If you aren't enjoying it then it is not worth doing next year. I hope this doesn't ruin the fun for Gavin and you will enjoy it more next time as the supportive parent. I wish you all the best and a tough hyde to get you through this season. ;)


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