Sunday, September 30, 2012

What happened to team sports being fun?

I'm feeling the need to vent today...maybe it's because it's Sunday and I don't want this beautiful fun filled weekend to end or maybe it's because I just spent the afternoon at my daughter's soccer game. 

It is not normally my style to take to my blog to complain or vent and it's not the purpose for my blog however, I really need to get this off my chest.  My daughter has played soccer for the last four seasons.  She has played with the same coach and pretty much the same girls for the last three of those seasons.  Her team has been undefeated for three of the four seasons.  This season her team has moved up to a much more challenging division and has been met with many obstacles.  They quickly learned during the first game the field is bigger, the girls play harder and are MUCH bigger! 

She has gone to every practice and plays her heart out.  Now I am not going to lie and say she always plays her best, what I am saying she is a team player and will do what is asked of her.  You may remember my post a few months ago when she scored her first goal. 

So why am I venting?  Well during the last game, K sat on the bench for most of the second half while all the other players were subbed in and out.  Apparently she did play for a little while during the first half and had some really good plays (I missed part of it because I was out shooting senior portraits.)  When I asked K if she did something wrong and was being punished for something her response was I don't know...I don't think so.  When she was put in during the second half she was taken out a minute to two minutes later.  During the game she was limping slightly due to an early injury but not complaining about it after she got warmed up.  I asked the coach after the game if she did something wrong and was told, she didn't do anything wrong but that he needed to get better at subbing people in and out during the game since we have many more subs this season.  He also mentioned that K was limping and thought she was in pain. 

Fast forward to today's game.  Today K started the game and played quite a bit.  She had one her best games yet, blocking the ball, good kicks and aggressive playing.  I have to say we were very proud of her.  So what am I venting about you ask?  Well after the game was over K came running off the field in tears.  After finding out what was wrong I sent her back on the field to congratulate the other players with her team.  One of the parents behind me made a comment about why she was crying and then another parent came up to me asking what had happened.  When I explained what K told us she encouraged me to talk to the coach to put an end to it.  So I grabbed K and the girls who were part of the drama and asked the coach to listen to the situation.  I was hoping we could put a very quick end to the drama.  Everyone's emotions were very high as we lost our third game.  After asking the girls what happened the coach stepped in and discussed it with all of the girls involved.  I am not sure I am totally happy with what was said and how it was resolved but it was handled, until the other two parents involved came into the discussion.  One parent asked what happened and if his daughter said something rude.  I calmly stated no and just explained what the issue was.  The other parent quickly defended their child, praising them for communicating on the field.  Now I understand the concept of playing as a team and talking to each other on the field and I think it is an important part of playing as a team.  However, I have a problem with other players, "coaching" from the field when they too make mistakes. 

K has lost all desire to play soccer because the focus is no longer on having fun but winning.  Now K may not be the best player on the team but she is a player and plays hard...most of the time.  When did it become OK for a kid's team sport become more about winning than having fun and playing the game?  What message are we sending to our kids if we are only focused on winning and not having fun?

I do want to give props to K's coach, he constantly is reminding the girls to play a clean game and not take the easy way out and play a dirty game.  Even when one of our girls got hurt today and had to be carried off the field and the other team was laughing, our coach reminded the girls to not play their game.  He channel their anger use it to play hard and score points.  

K, I am proud of you and how hard you played during the game today.  You played every position you were asked to and never said I can't.  You showed everyone today that you are a team player.  Score a goal next week and as Frank would say...Glacier Flakes is on him!