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Why The Worst Part About Youth Soccer Is Youth Soccer

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A youth soccer club has just done something awesome. Apparently, some parents were getting just a little too competitive. In response, Entire Fire FC covered its fields with signs that read, ” Reminders from your child: I’m just a KID. It’s just a GAME. My coach is a VOLUNTEER. The officials are HUMAN. NO college scholarships will be given out today. Thank you and have fun!

Now if youth soccer clubs would only do something about the coaches. And the sport itself.

I’m just one season into soccer dad-hood, and I’m already pulling my hair out. The scores of the games or my 4-year-old’s, um, unique style of play (follow pack, don’t b

reak a sweat, gnaw on jersey) aren’t the problems. It’s the coaches and everything they represent. After every score — and there are at least 20 per game in the 3-to-4-year-old league — some of these “adults” call their players into a huddle and proceed to embark upon a fireside chat with them for what feels like four hours at a pop. You could take a nap in your car and come back, and they’d still be huddling up.

“This isn’t the World Cup!” I’ve been known to bark from the sidelines, wife tugging on my sleeve while hiding her face notwithstanding. “The kids just want to exercise. They don’t care about whatever it is you’re talking about. Positions or tactics or whatever. It’s soccer. The only tactic is kicking the ball into the net, maybe. Don’t try to pretend it’s any more complicated than that.”

I grudgingly admit I’m not as thrilled with my soccer dad status as I thought I would be. Oh, the dreams I had! Waking up early every Saturday morning, making coffee, helping the little fella put on his uniform, driving sensibly to the recreational complex, cheering on yet another victory. I would be just like that suave-looking young dad in that Folger’s commercial. And life isn’t really real until it imitates film, right.

My curmudgeonly self, however, has other plans. Having never played soccer, I am quick to dismiss it, which means I’m quick to get up on my high horse and look down my nose at “the beautiful game.”

“All you gotta do is kick the ball, guys. It’s not that hard. No need for a teleconference with David Beckham.”

The amount of pre-/post-game havoc I’ve been creating around the house has been legendary. My wife claims soccer is the only sport Apollo will play. Every time her declaration flies from her mouth, I smile and say, “OK, sweetheart.”

To myself, I grumble, “That’s what you think.”

Anthony Mariani is Editor of the Fort Worth Weekly.