(Don’t worry, my digital detox series of blogs will continue. I just needed to throw all this at you first….)
I thought being a soccer mum was going to be easy. Preparing oranges, washing kits (that’s the word for the ‘uniform’), ordering strips (THAT’S the name for the top), getting him to leave the boots outside (still doesn’t happen) and braving the cold to watch my now twelve year old out there on the pitch (that’s the word for the oval and goals ‘n stuff).
But do you know what? It’s HARD man! None of the above seems to matter anymore. What seems to be more of an issue, is enduring the behaviour of those both on and off the pitch.
I actually did a Google search before I started this rant to get some more knowledge of soccer rules and etiquette. All the information I read was aimed at five year olds learning to kick a ball NOT at teenagers and their feisty parents who’ve gone feral . Yes. FERAL!
Over the last few months watching the twelve year old premier league, I’ve noticed the behaviour change very noticeably. Is it more pressure to win? Is it hormones? Is it ‘just the way it is’?
Regardless, it’s just plain unacceptable if you ask me.
Some examples ? Sure.
Watching one game, the opposition’s assistant coach progressively escalated his volume and his foul mouth as he ‘called out encouragement to his twelve year olds team’. Then? He dropped the F-bomb. For ALL to hear.
Now normally, little meek and mild me would try and sink deeper into my deck chair, roll my eyes, shake my head, that sort of thing.
But enough was enough.
I hustled up my strongest voice and yelled “Hey MATE!! You’re setting an example for the kids, can ya watch ya language?” ( I tried to match my language to his level of assumed comprehension).
Well lo and behold it worked!! At the end of the game, he came over and apologised to all the parents for his bad language.
Good on him for reflecting and stepping up to admit he’d behaved poorly.
Sadly though, this is a rare occurrence and one I’ve never seen repeated.
At another game, the scores were tied. In soccer, this seems to be ultra intense and must alter the brain chemistry of some parents, setting off a chain of foul language and bad behaviour. Opposition parents were ‘boo-ing’ the referee!!! No, REALLY!!
The only consolation I saw was that the ref was a very experienced Italian man in his sixties- so had a much thicker skin than the usual teenaged refs out there on the pitch (the oval with the goals ‘n stuff)!
More recently I watched a game in which there were (apparently) some questionable calls made by the referee. Tempers escalated and the ‘fanciful’ language did too. ‘F-bombs’ from the boys, the grown man linesman closest to us and parents who really should know better.
Don’t even get me started on the boys I see hocking loogies like they’re ultra cool and cultured either!
When a win is achieved and accompanied by tasteless language, cocky behaviour and lack of decorum, I’d rather lose! I’d rather lose with my sportsmanship in tact, dignity on display and a sense of giving my best for the spectators and supporters.
I made this a strong conversation point with my twelve year old after the last game he played. I’m so glad he understood.
As a mum, I always make sure he shakes his coaches’ hands after a game and thanks them for their time. He also must help pack up and thank the other team.
It’s these little gestures that I want ingrained and encouraged. Sadly, I think too that these gestures will also make him stand out !
I asked my fourteen year old triplets what would happen if they, on the netball court (with lines and goals ‘n stuff), behaved in the way they witness these boys playing.
They replied “we’d get MURDERED by our coaches and teachers and detentions forever!”.
One point I will make even though I didn’t want to sound like the soccer snob. It’s not ALL boys and parents from ALL teams behaving badly out there. To put it bluntly, once you check which area the team is coming from, you can often (but not always) attribute the behaviour to the area.
What worries me is the fact that parents are such influential role models to their children. If the parents are feral and foul mouthed, what hope is there for the kids? Parents play such an invaluable role in club and community sports that they should be leading by example, follow the rules and conduct themselves accordingly .
When being distracted by Foul Frickin’ Freddie and his toddler-inspired behaviour, the enjoyment of the game is diminished. Not only do I worry about how it’s influencing my children, I worry about how I’m going to explain to them on the way home that….well….some people are just meat headed morons?!
“But don’t worry kids, when we get home, I’ll teach you how to block a punch or a loogie should it head your way in future Sunday morning sports games.” I don’t think so!
When reading through the Code of Conduct of the soccer club we are in, there are many affirming words like ‘respect’,’encourage’,’accept’,’dignity’,’worth’ and ‘fun’.
There are NO words like ‘f*&k’,’loser’,’idiot’,’playing so bad’.’AAAh-COME ON REF’, and other things in Italian I don’t understand….but judging the hand signals, they aren’t good words.
As a side note, I must stress that I am NOT against swear words, colourful phrasing nor a great fight to win on the pitch/court/oval/leg press machine.
I think cuss words have their time and their place.
I love a good F-bomb while driving in my car alone, or when the remote doesn’t work, or when I have to drive around the school car park AGAIN.
I delight in a sports challenge to bring out one’s best efforts, fill them with self pride and create lasting memories. I also LOVE watching sport. While I’m not a vocal spectator nor one who jumps out of her deck chair when there’s a goal, I DO enjoy watching.
I’m super proud of the fact that all my children are out there playing sports and giving it a go. They’re making true social connections, keeping fit and learning about team work. I’ll always support them and their sports. And between the four of them, there’s soccer, netball, tennis, athletics, touch football, AFL and softball.
What I WON’T support is the feral, foul mouthed boys and parents who ruin the atmosphere for those giving their time and effort to those who earn and deserve it.
The big question?
HOW DO YOU CHANGE IT ?
How do we enforce respect, manners, enjoyment, encouragement, dignity and worth on the playing field (pitch)?
What do YOU think? HOW do you change it?
DISCLAIMER * This post is in NO way directed towards the club we are involved in. The parents, coaches and boys have and ARE being nurtured and taught how to play like champions, whether they win or lose. And I haven’t seen any unknown hand gestures on display……