Monday, March 23, 2009

When a Game is Not Just a Game

My daughter is good at almost everything she does. She started taking ballet when she was 3 and was moved up into more advanced classes immediately because she has a very mature attention span and learned quickly. We let her take ice skating lessons over the summer because she loves to ice skate and we wanted to have her get some safety lessons under her belt. Her teachers took me aside and told me she should continue on because she has a natural talent. She's just really physically agile and athletic...almost.

The one thing she is not very good at is soccer, even though she has played that since she was 3 as well. She is just not agressive enough. When she was little, she didn't have the focus. She would be on the field and the high school marching band would be practicing on the next field. She would stop what she was doing and start dancing to the music and the ball would just go rolling right by her. She'll dribble the ball and another player will come up to her and steal it away and she'll just let them. She tries her hardest, listens to the coach and can run down the ball and force the opposite team out of the goal, so she's not bad...she's just not good.

So yesterday we were at her soccer game and she was doing her thing, trying her hardest and being a team player. Her coach kept her in the game a lot because they weren't playing the best team and she was getting a chance at playing a lot of offense that she doesn't normally get to play because she gets overwhelmed by better players. Now remember, this is a 6 and 7 year old team. They don't even keep score yet, nor do they have goalies. It's supposed to be about learning skills and teamwork. I was watching the game but I kept hearing one of our fathers grumbling about his daughter not getting to play. I dismissed it because, well, I didn't really care. E's had plenty of games where she didn't play as much and I didn't complain. That's the game.

So today at soccer practice I was watching the daughter of this father playing one of the "drill"games and she was cheating the entire time. The game was designed so that only one child could win at the end of the game. It was so important to her to win each time that she cheated each and every time. The coach had to force her to leave the game each and every time.

But here's the rub: as E and I were leaving practice today, the girl's mom stopped us to apologize for the father's behavior. Had I been listening to the father, I would have heard him berating MY child and yelling at the coach telling him she didn't deserve to play so much when better players were sitting on the sidelines. I wish the mom hadn't chosen to say this in front of E, but E knows the other girls are better, that's why she practices at home almost every day. Thankfully she didn't take it to heart. And I appreciated the mom apologizing, even though she has no control over her husband. But all I could think was "Ah ha, that's why the daughter feels like she has to cheat to win!"

So, the coach apparently talked to the dad and the dad was not at practice tonight, so I suspect the coach let him have it. Our coach is a real soccer player and he doesn't take crap from the kids or the parents. He runs a tight ship. As far as I am concerned, if the dad says something about E that's his problem. She knows enough about the world to recognize an immature bulliy, even if it is coming from an adult. I feel bad for the daughter. If he's this bad now, she doesn't have a chance when it becomes serious in high school and college. But all I can really think is, "Geez, people, what happened to it just being a GAME?"


Anonymous said...

I fit eyeglasses. We had a dad come in and ONLY want to buy his son glasses for sports - not for reading the blackboard or doing homework. My staff member was LIVID that the only thing the day cared about was if his son could see the ball. He told the dad that no matter how good the kid played, he wouldn't be allowed to play if his grades were bad. Father just didn't care. The mother was totally submissive, I can only imagine the living hell that is her life with this man based on the family's behaviour in the office.

This dad's problem is all his. He sounds like a real prize. Boobie, that is.

/ dw

Bubblewench said...

I was awful at soccer, and that was MY dad yelling on the sidelines when I played(or didn't)... embarrssing for a child that age. Trust me I know.

I'm glad the mother realized he was being a jerk and said something.

And I'm glad Grace is above that and knows better.

Diana said...

My goodness. I'm just getting into this child-rearing thing and I had no idea that adults could act this way. I don't know if, in the same situation, I could have kept my cool. Good for you.

Erica said...

I have nieces (twins) who are a little younger than E and just started soccer over the summer. I went down with my in-laws for my MIL's birthday and during the soccer match, the one stopped, let the girl from the other team take away the ball, and screamed "HAPPY BIRTHDAY NANA!!"

You can't get mad about that :)