Play Ball

Author Fred Bowen recent wrote an article in The Washington Post describing the efforts of one county to get parents and coaches to simmer down during their kids’ soccer games.  In response to the over-zealousness of adults watching the games, Arlington County, Virginia is conducting a Silent Soccer Weekend.  During matches “Folks can clap for good plays and support their teams in other non verbal ways.  But no screaming at the kids to ‘wake up’ or ‘get the ball.’”

As the parent of a football player on a deaf team I was always grateful that our side never felt that we had to yell during games.  I used to listen parents and coaches on opposing teams and be glad that we didn’t need to have any of that stuff coming from us.  There was the pedestrian:

“Watch the pass!”

“Run fast!” and

“Block that guy!”

As well as the more –well, not very nice:

“Show ‘em what you’re made of!”

“He barely hit you, get up!” and (my favorite!)

“Go hard or go home!”

As for the former:  well, don’t the kids already know the rules of the game?  Do these kids really need Mom to remind them, as if this is an on-field version of “Do your homework.”?  I mean, everybody is at least trying to watch the ball, right?  The kids who are supposed to be running already look like they are moving pretty fast.  And sometimes one guy completely misses the other guy, hard as he tries.  Anyway doesn’t all of this get a little confusing – run, block, tackle, throw – I bet these boys already know who is supposed to be doing what.  And if not – it’s too late!

As for the latter:  just let me say I was not thinking along these lines at all.  If I were going to call out anything across the field it would have been something like:

“Asher honey, watch that boy, he is going to try to knock you down!”

“Asher dear, it’s cold and rainy, tell the coach you want to go home!” and

“Asher darling, stay away from that big crowd of kids, someone is going to get hurt!”

It’s possible the coach would not have appreciated this advice.

Bowen describes the technique of longtime Baltimore Orioles coach Cal Ripken Sr., father of Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr.  He “never approached a player during a game to tell him about a mistake.  Instead, [he] marked it down in a notebook and went to the player the next day to explain what he had done wrong and how he could correct it . . . Ripken knew from experience that the player would not listen to him during the game.  The player would be too upset or embarrassed about striking out or booting a grounder to really hear his coach’s advice.  So Ripken waited for a time when the player was ready to listen.”

Interesting advice for coaches, parents, and the rest of us.   

On second thought, maybe it would not have been such a bad idea to get Ash off the field on those really cold nights.  Chicken soup, anyone?

Copyright 2012.  Do not reproduce without permission.

© Barbara Raimondo 2015