It was a beautiful day in October, and I was home for fall break. The sun was shining, the Steelers were up 10 against the Ravens and I had just consumed a delicious burger from Five Guys. Normally, you could say I was in my element. However, this was not the case. I was sitting in a wobbly fold up lawn chair in the middle of a field that was 95 percent mud and five percent grass. There were fathers all around me wearing different versions of Merrill shoes on their feet and Oakley sunglasses on their heads. Every mother I saw was either peeling oranges or unloading packs of Capri-Sun out of her mini-van.
Are you starting to visualize the setting? I was at my 10-year-old brother’s soccer game — miserable did not even begin to describe my state of existence. Although my brother was absolutely dominating his competition (he’s a Rielly, what else would you expect?), I just could not take it anymore, and I was forced to leave. I had been through this so many times that if I stayed any longer, I actually would have had a heart attack. I mean, I would rather watch an entire four minutes of a WNBA game than go to that event again. So, now that you get the picture, I am going to give you my three primary reasons why youth soccer is the bane of my existence.
1. The dad who always has to coach his son
It is no coincidence that this reason is No. 1 on my list. To put things in perspective, this annoys me more than ankle bracelets, Birkenstocks and Barry Bonds combined. The dad is always some guy named Brick or Rod, and he was probably the star of his soccer team in junior high and senior high school. He got by in high school with a casual 3.1 GPA, went to prom with the homecoming queen and had the greatest summer of his life after his senior year. But everything went downhill for him after that, as he was too slow to get recruited anywhere good and ended up playing for the club team at his local state college. He saw the birth of his first son as an opportunity to live through his experiences again and signed up his kid — named Gunner, Jimmy or Spike. The ironic part to all of this is that Jimmy, Gunner or Spike does not have an athletic bone in his body, and just wants to sit at home and read a book. Because of this, everyone watching the game suffers as the dad directs 99.9 percent of his coaching toward his beloved kid.
I hate the dad who always has to coach his son.
2. The halftime snacks
I just don’t get it. Whose idea was it to feed young children Capri-Sun during the halfway point of an athletic contest? I can tell you right now that it was certainly not someone qualified. Have you ever had a Capri-Sun? First, you have to stick the straw in the pouch. This is no easy task. I tried doing it the other week, and 30 minutes and a ruined Brooks Brothers button down later, I ended up just throwing the pouch against the wall. When you finally get the drink open, you get some weird flavor that always tastes like blood. It is a miserable drink.
Once you have the Capri-Sun in one hand, you peel the orange slice in the other. Don’t get me wrong, I love putting an orange slice in my mouth and pretending like it’s a mouth guard as much as the next guy, but it is as fulfilling as the third movie in the Godfather series. Can’t they come up with something better than orange slices?
3. The kid who is two years older than everyone else and dominates the league
When you are in the age range of 10 to 12-years-old, playing against someone who is a year older than you is a big deal. If it is two years, then it is basically game over. Every year, there is always some parent who wants to see his kid succeed, so he puts him in a league below where he should be playing. The kid dominates, and the family goes home happy. What the parents don’t realize is that once he gets to high school, everyone will catch up to him and he will ride the bench for four years and never see the field.
I could go on and on about this sport, but I am tired and pretty sure I am out of words, but let me leave you with this.
When you have kids, don’t get too involved. Make sure they actually like what they are doing because if you don’t listen to them, I guarantee you will lose them.
Original Author: Nicholas Rielly