Typically this comment from a teenager would elicit a reprimand. However, in the instance I have to say that I had to agree with him. To paint the picture…a u12 girls team is playing their first full-sided tournament. Both teams are trying to adjust to the big field and the additional players. This is the “final” of but one of the many tournaments that both teams will eventually play in. The girls are playing pretty well; both teams are doing their best to connect passes rather than hoof the ball upfield.
Meanwhile, an older brother of one of the girls is in the stands supporting his sister. All around him are parents of both teams shouting the usual nonsense heard at youth soccer games (“SEND IT!” ”CLEAR IT!” ”TALK!” ”SHOOT!”). The boy just looked at his mother and said, “parents are stupid,” he said as he shook his head. The comment came after a number of such typically inappropriate comments from the crowd. Because he played the game, the older brother understood what the girls were trying to do – while the parents were only focused on hoping to prevent a loss.
The fact is that too often the kids know more about the game than their parents. Based on comments I’ve heard from some parents, I know that many kids (even as young as u12) have already forgotten more about playing the sport than these adults will ever know.
The real shame of it is that the kids – even at this young an age – already understand that win or lose they are ultimately playing (regardless of competitive level) to have fun. The result of a single game is much less relevant than what they are learning over several years. This touches everything, doesn’t it? When you think about it, a child’s long-term development is a fundamental priority for all parents. Why is the sporting arena any different? In other words, why does it change when it becomes “long term PLAYER development?”
Look at it this way: would parents go to school and interrupt their kids’ math class and yell, “Multiply faster!”? Would they ride the school bus? What about the playground at recess? Why not let the kids play? The coach is there to provide the necessary guidance and allow the players to learn (and yes – make mistakes). The game is for the kids; let them play and experience the highs and lows on their own.
Young players are capable of understanding this. It’s up to the parents to be supportive – and not to play the critic…
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
- Theodore Roosevelt