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Monday, September 15. 2008
Having three sons I've heard my share of tattling. My sons also know that tattling is a sure way to get into dad's or mom's doghouse. If one of my boys is not risking his safety or someone else's safety their responsibility is to have their brother's back, not to rat them out. It's a lesson that they have a hard time learning, even when the tattler gets punished and the tattlee does not. Hopefully eventually they will completely learn the lesson.
Tonight was one of those nights where the people who plan stuff get together to see how they can make the boy's mother and me pull our hair out. Kellan had a game he needed to be at at 5:30. Travis's Back to School Night was also at 5:30. The two locations were far enough apart that it was difficult to get everyone where they needed to be in a timely fashion. In addition, the man providing dinner (me) ended up waiting in line at Wendy's for ten plus minutes throwing the entire schedule off.
Jennifer and I both went to Back to School Night. Our thinking on that was Travis only has three of those left and Kellan has lots and lots of soccer games left. I had to leave the high school and go pick Kellan up after the game and return with him to the high school. The game was just ending when I pulled into the parking lot at the school where he was playing. I got out and wandered over to his team to listen to the coaches post-game briefing. I didn't see the game, I don't know the tale of the tape, I'm not sure what interactions happened during the game. I do know what I saw and heard after the game.
While I was there the coach for the Centennial U-11 team came over and started talking to one of the dads. I didn't catch what he said until the very end, fortunately Kellan's coach asked him if there was a problem and the coach repeated what he said, "I just wanted you to know that one of your boys wouldn't shake hands with our boys after the game." I was stunned. Here was a grown man ratting out a ten year-old to his coach. I bit my tongue and didn't say a thing, but I really wanted to. I wanted to tell this coach just how impressed I was by the fact that he was ratting out this player.
The whole concept of "sportsmanship" that they think they're teaching the kids these days is one of the most repugnant things I have ever heard of. It's bothered me since Travis started playing ten years ago. We force this kids to stand in line and shake hands and lie after every game. "Good game, good game, good game...." What a load of crap! What if it wasn't a good game? What if the guy you're shaking hands with tripped you and pushed you the entire game? What if you tripped and pushed him?
Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of good sportsmanship. I believe that we should teach our kids to be good sports. I love seeing a player who was tripped helped back up by the guy who tripped him. I love it when a team realizes they should not have possession of the ball and purposely kicks it out of bounds to turn it over. Watching friends from competing teams greet each other after a game is a great thing. Listening to players acknowledge the the other team was better when they lose or acknowledge the efforts of other players are all very good things. But forcing players to shake hands, forcing them to tell the other team "good game." is not good sportsmanship, it's forcing kids to act the way we believe they should act, not teaching them to act the way we believe they should act.
So what lesson did that Centennial coach teach Kellan's team tonight? I know this it certainly wasn't one I want my son to learn.
Saturday, September 15. 2007
I was at two soccer games today. William played at 9:00am and Kellan played at 10:15. William's team won 12 - 1. Kellan's team lost 5 - 0.
One of the things I noticed was that Kellan's game was a learning experience for the boys, and William's was not. This is because the Referee at William's game apparently thought the rules didn't matter. She was equally lax in applying the rules to either team. Made a foul throw? No problem, they're just kids, doesn't matter if they obey the rules of the game. Play offside? no worries, it's a complicated rule, we can't expect these 10 year olds to understand it. Touch the ball with your hand? not a problem, wouldn't want you to tire out having to chase the ball down.
Kellan's game on the other hand was a fabulous learning experience for the boys. This Referee, far younger than the Ref at William's game, believed in the rules of the game, and it had an impact. It didn't take too many times turning the ball over because of a foul throw before the kids started paying attention to how they were throwing the ball in. It didn't take too many hand-balls before the kids started paying attention to what they were doing with their hands. The offside rule is complicated, but these 9 year olds started figuring it out fairly quickly after the Referee started blowing her whistle for offside.
Being a Referee is a difficult job. I'm very thankful for most of those who are willing to do it. Everyone has an off day now and again, but failing to use your position to help teach the youngsters playing is completely unacceptable.
Friday, September 14. 2007
Those were my words to William Zane after his soccer game last night. It was hard to say, but he needed to know that he did not do well. I was able to find some things to praise, and did so. Hopefully that eased some of the sting a bit.
William is ten years old. Old enough to know that what he does on the field doesn't just affect him, it affects his teammates.
My sons have grown up in an era where keeping score is frowned upon. The ridiculous thing is, even if the adults aren't keeping score, the kids are. When Travis started playing soccer at five, his first words when he'd come off the field were either "we won!" "we lost," or "did we win?" The same was true of William and Kellan when they started playing.
I'm not sure why people believe that teaching children that there are no winners or losers is appropriate. Because whether you're dealing with sports, or life in general, there are always winners and losers. Why do we believe we're doing a service to our children by not teaching them how to deal appropriately with both winning and losing?
For some kids this works better than for others. Travis was very conscious of winning and losing and doing his absolute best to help his team (he was a goalie, so sometimes felt the weight of the world). Kellan is a little dynamo, with the skills and personality to be a leader on his team no matter what. He's very conscious that the things he does affect his teammates. William is different though. When there are no winners or losers, there's not necessarily a reason to play hard, or do well. He plays because it's fun for him and that's all. On an individual level that's not a problem. If he'd chosen to run track, or play tennis, or cycling, having fun is all that matters. However, William has chosen to play soccer and basketball, which means a laissez-faire approach to sports doesn't affect only him, it affects others, and that is a problem.
I'm not the kind of parent that will shout anything but encouragement to his kids during a sporting event. I've seen what that does to kids, and want no part of it. I will, however, be trying to help my middle boy find his place on his team, and in the world. I don't believe, "That's OK son, you're still a winner to me." will suffice.
Monday, June 4. 2007
Last Thursday evening I went to see my youngest son playing baseball. It was a lovely night for baseball, and I always enjoy watching him play. At the bottom of the fourth inning my son's team was up to bat, and one of the fathers from the other team came and stood behind the backstop so he could "coach" his son (I think it was his son) who was playing catcher.
Usually when someone stands behind the backstop, a simple "Hey you're blocking the view, could you please move." suffices. That was not to be the case this evening.
The lady sitting next to Jennifer very politely said "Excuse me, but we can't see, could you please move?" She was ignored. Jennifer politely asked also. She was ignored. I watched this with bemusement and decided to help out. I raised my voice loud enough that he couldn't possibly NOT hear me and said "Excuse me, you must not have heard the ladies, but you're blocking their view could you please move?" He shifted to the right. Now instead of blocking homeplate he was blocking the entire first base line.
Once again there was a round of "Please moves" and eventually the woman sitting next to Jennifer got up and moved. I figured that five polite "Please moves" from three different people were likely enough.
I stuffed my hands in my pockets, walked around the bleachers and went and leaned in close and quietly said--so as not to embarrass him--"The ladies asked you politely to please move. Now you can learn some manners yourself, or I can teach them to you."
His response surprised me, he turned around and shoved me twice. and started ranting at me. I pulled my hands out of my pockets and folded my arms across my chest and simply smirked at him. He proceeded to loudly ask me if I wanted a piece of him. If I wanted to "try" him, etc. and then he explained that he had to be there, he was on the coaching staff. I said "Well there's a perfectly good spot to sit on the bleachers right behind the plate." At which point he said one of the stupidest things I've ever heard a grownup say, "Yeah but last time I sat there I got white shit on my shorts." (There was line chalk all over the bleachers, and sure that's not an ideal situation, but it hadn't stopped others from sitting there.) That statement caused a chuckle to ripple through those that heard it.
Bottom line, he moved.
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