Friday, August 5, 2011

Silent But Deadly?

Until this week, I had never heard of silent soccer.

Some Ontario kids teams are trying it out-- it’s where parents and coaches watch their kids play soccer without any verbal input. Nothing negative is said, but nothing positive either—just nothing at all. Clapping is the only thing permitted.

Perhaps as a result of being silenced on the field, parents and coaches are sounding off about it a lot in the media, with people seeming to feel strongly both for and against it. The parents and coaches who like it seem to think the kids have more freedom to play without constant verbal assault, that it’s good for self esteem, and that the kids communicate better with each other in the game. The ones who don’t like it say watching your kids soccer game is boring enough without sucking all the fun out of it, and isn’t it better to yell encouragement than stare at your blackberry while you’re supposedly spending quality time with your kid?

At first I didn’t know what to think and I wanted to make this blog an artsy statement piece in which I brought up silent soccer and then was silent about it- perhaps doing an interpretive dance instead- but then I realized I have few enough readers as it is, and I can’t afford to alienate them with weird crap like that. (Also, really, no one needs to see me do that.) But when the Globe and Mail interviewed Silken Laumann about it, I knew I had to step in, because come on guys, she’s a rower. What the hell does she know about silent soccer?

So, for what it’s worth, here’s what I think: unlike a soccer ball, this is not black and white. As a coach of 7 and 8 year old girls, I must say that it would be really hard to stand on the sidelines unable to say anything while a kid ran in the wrong direction with the ball, which, especially early in the season, happens more than you think. But I also think there are some real jackass parents out there who will not shut the hell up. They get so worked up they physically fight with other parents, or sometimes make teenaged refs head home crying from their abuse. (I read about one ref for whom things had gotten so out of control that he made every parent on the team spend the remainder of a game in their cars.)

But, to borrow a word from another parent on this subject: I also object to the wussification of sport by parents. If kids honestly can’t handle talking during a game then I doubt they are going to get very far in life. And if talking is so politically incorrect, that what else in soccer is next?

- Oranges at halftime could become taboo, since we live in cold Canada and oranges cannot be locally sourced. Maybe our kids should only be permitted to quench their thirst with rainwater gathered in barrels made from wood chewed by free range Canadian beavers.

- Uniforms unattractive? Perhaps your child doesn’t look good in yellow. To prevent loss of self esteem, maybe every kid could just wear whatever felt most comfortable and flattering for them- sure, no one would know who to pass to during the games, but we can’t have any hurt feelings.

- I’d also be willing to put in a vote for replacing the permitted clapping with finger snapping. No reason – I doubt any kids ears, already ravaged by ipods, are too sensitive to the sound of two fleshy palms, smacking together – but I just think finger snapping would be more groovy. Especially if we did it while we wore berets and smoked unfiltered cigarettes without using our hands.

Wait, now just like those yelly parents, I’ve gone too far. But you know what? I don’t need rules to reign me in. I’ll shut up now.

1 comment:

  1. I am ALL FOR silent soccer!!!

    ZOMG!!!! whoever thought up the idea of "SILENT SOCCER" should win a Nobel Peace Prize!!

    it is SO IRRITATING to hear some idiot Al Bundy with his "attaboy!"s and his incessant claptrap-pap!

    Let the kids play, if they do well, clap. Loudly even.

    If they don't do so well, let the coach give instruction.

    At some games the parents drown out the coach the whole game. All these sideline coach's ... pfft. There are adult games they could go play or tvs they could sit in front of where they could scream at players (either encouragement or denigration, whichever), they don't have to do it at my kids' games...

    If I knew that I wouldn't go to jail and it wouldn't be setting a bad example for my kids... sometimes I have fantasies of just going berzerk on some of these people with their neverending yelling, screaming... Especially when they're a foot away from you and they're screaming at the other team... put a sock in it woman before I punch your husband in the mouth

    - Man of, i hate most soccer parents