Don’t Be That Guy

So, over the weekend, Barry was at his youngest daughter’s soccer game at the local Y. All set for an afternoon of fun and laughs, he nearly had his weekend spoiled by That Guy. You dudes know him. Here, let Barry explain.

That dad was there. The one no one wants to stand or sit next to. He’s the guy who’s screaming so loudly and so angrily that you’d think his livelihood was on the line and if one of his players messed up, he’d be out on the streets begging for scraps with which he’d bait his rat traps so he could eat.

I wanted to confront him. I really did.

At first, I only watched him scream and hurl invective at his players. Odds are, his little girl is not going to be the next Brandi Chastain or Hope Solo. All he accomplished with the yelling was looking like a bit of an ass and, more than likely although I’m pretty much guessing here, pushing his daughter away.

Fortunately, someone, his wife I think, tapped him on the arm to get his attention. They spoke for a bit. He didn’t look happy, but he did quiet down. A little. Enough so I could almost enjoy the game.

These are the guys that really drive me nuts. It’s as if they’re trying desperately to relive their own childhoods, address whatever sporting inadequacies they once had and correct them by making their child do what they couldn’t. This is no different than the Pop Warner football coach who’s trying to create a dynasty in 11-and-under football so he kicks off the kids who have never played before so he can stock his team with winners.

Youth sports is supposed to be just that: for the youth. These little dudes and little dudettes are joining a soccer team, or a basketball team, or baseball team or lacrosse, or whatever, so they can learn about the sport, exercise and have fun, and enjoy the company of their peers. It’s not so a dad can coach, imagining each night that he’s Vince Lombardi.

Once I had one of those dads on my daughter’s kindergarten soccer team. His tiny, tiny little girl was playing up a year, meaning she was a year younger than everyone else on any of the teams, and he just would not shut up. He yelled at his daughter all the time, completely undermining her confidence and actually making her cry. This went on for like three games until finally I snapped.

I got between him and the field and told him to shut his trap. He look at me dumbfounded and asked what he’d done. Right behind me his child was balling. I gestured at the poor kid out there sobbing and said, “Think about it. You know what you are doing.”

He looked me and his lip started to quiver. A grandfather of another girl came over and started chatting him up. Distracting him. The other moms gave me the thumbs up. He never came to another game. His wife brought their daughter to every practice and game after that. He developed into a great little player and actually scored a goal once.

I never said anything to his wife but she sat right next to me at the end of yet party and we talked about how awesome her little girl was. He sat across the room.

I didn’t tell that story so everyone could hear how awesome I am standing up for little kids. (although he is) I told it to you as an example of sorts.

Sometimes we get carried away, caught up in an exciting event and we can forget that the kids for whom we’re cheering are only little kids. And sometimes we don’t understand, in our excitement, that we’re doing more harm than good. And sometimes we need someone to step up and point a few things out. And sometimes, we have to be the one to do the stepping.

Either way, we all need to remember that youth sports are for the youth. Let’s let them have fun.

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