Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I'll take a little cheese with my whine, please

Now, if I might be permitted the indulgence of a little whine...

I coach youth soccer. This is the fifth year I've coached a team of kids six years old or under. I am also the soccer commissioner at the church my daughters attend. I volunteer my time to get the fields ready to play, to run registration and to organize teams (14 this season).

The past few weeks I have been attempting to run a law practice, be a good husband to a wife who watched her father die and get things ready for the upcoming soccer season.

Along the way I have to deal with parents who want their little angels on the same team with their BFF's. I have to deal with coaches who aren't willing to split teams up in order to field enough teams to ensure kids have adequate playing time. I have to recruit parents to volunteer a couple of hours a week so we have enough coaches for the teams. And I have to arrange practice times so that we don't end up with two teams on the same field at the same time.

When I was a kid playing soccer we didn't request whose team we wanted to be on. We signed up and were assigned to a team. You might know some of the kids on the team and you might not know others. In the end you made some new friends.

The first year my oldest daughter played she knew one other kid on her team. She made friends with the other kids and has been playing soccer with some of them for the past three years. She did fine. She never complained that so-and-so wasn't on her team. She just went out and played.

But apparently the notion that kids can play with other kids they don't know and, not only survive, but make new friends, is a bit out there for some parents today. They get upset if their child isn't on the same team as their best friend or their classmates. They get upset if the guy down the street isn't the coach. It would be one thing if it were just a couple of parents - that I could handle with ease. But no. It seems that everyone walks around thinking the entire program needs to revolve around them and their kid's need to play only with their friends or classmates.

How does such behavior do any of the kids any good? When they go to school they will be placed in classes at random. They won't get to sit next to their best friend. Heaven forbid they have to sit next to someone who's different than they are.

Athletics, like school, is as much about socialization as it is anything else. Sure, by the end of the year the kids will have developed just a little bit more as soccer players. But they will also have developed a better sense of sportsmanship and what it means to be on a team. And, at this early age, that's far more important that whether their team wins or not.

Everyone wants their kids to live in an antiseptic bubble. Well, guess what. The world ain't like that. Kids scrape their knees, they fall off their bike, they get dirty, they get scared. And, through it all, they mature and learn how to cope with adversity and disappointment. They learn to rely on their own intuition and skill.

I guess we could baby them all and let them grow up to become little lemmings that just accept it when the government decides it's time to take away another freedom in the name of greater security. And you wondered what ever happened to the Fourth Amendment.

No comments: