Thursday, October 13, 2011

soccer mom manifesto

I agree.  But too much fruit can give you diarrhea, and too much cheese can make you constipated.  What does too much soccer do to you? 

I happened upon the Fall Festival while biking this weekend.  Smelling funnel cakes and popcorn, feeling the anticipation of the first crunch of dried leaves and the thump of a good pumpkin, I thought of Olivia, an hour away, running around on the still-green plastic grass of a turf field, smelling the smell of recycled rubber tires—again. 

I confess: I am a soccer heretic.  While I love the actual sport, I resent the all-consuming package, the soccer-industrial complex, if you will: competitive clubs, obsessive coaches, capitalizing merchandisers, and of course, lunatic parents with unresolved sports failures who scream from the sidelines with streaks of crazed spittle running down their intense chins (OK, I got a little carried away).  

The result:  burnt out kids, hijacked childhoods.

Who better to change this than us soccer moms, the slaves to the machine? Thus, I offer a Soccer Mom Manifesto, 8 theses to simplify soccer, nailed here, to the cyber-wall of said soccer-industrial complex.

1.   NO post game “snack” - This is a pain in the neck, which is why everyone buys the easiest (and thus, junkiest) thing possible.  Why give our kids individually wrapped shots of sugar and preservatives just after all that great exercise? 

YES – Oranges at half-time.

2.   NO team pictures – a waste of time and money.

YES - We all have cameras, right? Have a parent take a picture of the team for free and disseminate over email.  We’ve done it—it works.

3.   NO “participant” trophies – Ludicrous waste and bad message!  Gareth tossed all of his at the age of 11 because even his hyper-sentimental sports-loving heart deemed them “meaningless.” 

YES - Provide trophies for actual accomplishments like 1st place or “most improved”—your kids will be really proud of those.  Ask the coach to say a word about each player’s progress at the end of the year.  

4.   NO end of season parties at paid venues - Ugh! A hyper sweaty soccer team crammed into the local pizza joint eating more junk food.  Parents standing around with nowhere to sit.  More money. If you have multiple kids, these multiple parties pile up! 

YES - Have a party once a year, during the last practice, right on the soccer field.  Let the kids scrimmage unsupervised, or for the younger ones, go to the playground with the coach.  Great fun! 

5.   NO to 3 mandatory practices a week - These rob time from other activities. Coaches should remember that they’re mentoring kids, not soccer robots.  Most if not all of their players will never play in college.    

YES – 1 weekly practice for rec, two for club. If the club coach holds an optional third for flexibility, great.  

6.   NO lengthy warm-ups and post-game talks - With these little tricks, coaches take a 2-2 ½ hour chunk of precious weekend to fulfill a 1 hour game commitment (more when you count the commute).  Besides, too much warm-up is taxing, and the kids hear nothing at game’s end. 

YES – Arrive 30 minutes before the game for a 20 minute warm-up, 5 minute strategy session and 5 minute wiggle room.  And coaches – we heard enough during the game.  We’ll give you 5 minutes to wrap it up so we can get on with our day.

7.   NO team crap - who needs it? Bags, warm-ups, practice shirts, chairs for parents (really?).  A total money grab. 

YES - Save all this rah rah for the high school team when it represents something local and community oriented for a teenager.   

8.   The biggest NO of all: Tournaments! – a farce.  Unless your child is a high school aged player with real hopes for college play, these mind-numbing events are nothing more than fund-raising, club-building, injury inducing, holiday-weekend wrecking, burnout machines. 

YES – Soccer moms, take back your family’s holiday weekends! Go camping, visit a museum, sneak off to the beach, go to a Fall Festival! Stay home and chill—whatever your fam likes to do in addition to soccer. Give your kids a chance to miss "the game." 


  1. too much soccer. oh. so. true. way too serious. way too much. and soccer is my favorite sport. i coached chad's travel team and the parents were crazy! professional trainers for the B team at age 8????

    now chad is in debate...and even more time! tournaments are from 6:45am - 9pm on a saturday. and sometimes it is friday and sunday, too. he LOVES it though.

    1. it's true the kids' activities seem to take so much time - no matter which one. however, by highschool i don't resent it so much. the kids are old enough to make a commitment to something because they love it (and because they tried all that other stuff) - but what a drag that some parents and coaches take all that "trying" in the early years so seriously!

  2. i was talking with someone from UK who said she played a different sport every day. it wasn't about being the 'best' or getting setup for a college scholarship at age 7. :)

    even though it is different in HS, it is so consuming and not much time for other things, not much life balance.