Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The stay-at-home dad: Youth soccer — an unpopular opinion

by TYLER WILSON/Coeur Voice contributor
| October 6, 2021 1:00 AM

I don’t like soccer. Nothing you say will change my mind.

I understand the rules just fine, and I can appreciate the athleticism involved. I get it. The world loves soccer. I don’t.

Thankfully, none of my kids have wanted to join a soccer team. Yet. We now have a portable goal in the backyard and a few soccer balls, and lately, (shudders) a couple of my kids have been interested in playing more. It’s going to be a nightmare.

There’s nothing I want less than to stand on the sidelines of a soccer field on a rainy Saturday morning, watching a mob of other people’s kids chase after a ball. Yeah, sure, my kid will be in there somewhere too, but because they make the kids all wear the same colored T-shirt, it’ll be hard to spot the only one I care about.

Because I have four kids of my own, I’m not totally enamored with hanging around other kids. I have plenty myself, thank you very much, and mine seem to be from a particularly loud crop. So I’m not the first parent to volunteer in the classroom or lead a sports team. My wife, bless her heart, picks up the slack for both of us in that department. She’s a nicer person than me.

I admit that soccer is an odd pet peeve. In fact, I played several years of youth soccer as a lad, and I remember my parents cheering me on during every game, despite the fact I just wanted to be a “guard” and stand around the netting while the goalie and other players did all the actual defending. I had Ninja Turtles and Ghostbusters to think about, and the fresh open air of a soccer field is a great time to reflect on such important subjects.

To be fair, I struggle with caring about many sports. Football is completely pointless to me. The best part of playing football is throwing the ball, and in an organized game, there’s only ONE player who actually gets to throw the ball. What kind of nonsense is that?

I love baseball. I played that for a couple years as a kid, but, again, I preferred to daydream out in right field and I attempted to bunt with every at bat. I totally understand why baseball continues to lose popularity. It’s slow. But I like that. Everything in baseball is about the minutia — the strike zone, launch angles, where and how you connect the bat with the ball — it’s all tiny little details that add up to (sporadic) explosions of athleticism.

So I’d be up for watching little league games, but my kids don’t share the same love of the game, at least not yet. I blame the last place Minnesota Twins for screwing up during such an impressionable year for my kids and their sports interests. My oldest kids like hitting and throwing, but the rules of the game just frustrate them.

Soccer rules, on the other hand, just make sense to them. Unfortunately. You try to kick the ball into the net, and you don’t use your hands. The best part of playing soccer is kicking the ball, and basically everyone on the team has a chance at it. (Side rant: the second best part of playing football is kicking the football, and in an organized game… what? Only one person gets to kick the football?! Ridiculous.).

I’m trying my best not to influence their interests, even as the older two kids gravitate to soccer. Have I occasionally told them I think soccer is boring? Maybe. Have I occasionally gone on 30-minute rants about why baseball is the preferred sport for “smart people?” I’m not going to answer that.

But come on. Those youth soccer games are boring. You know how I know? I drive by the field and see parents erecting full-blown tents and bringing fancy chairs and coolers full of snacks and drinks. If the game was interesting, you wouldn’t need any of that. Did you know that at baseball games, everyone just watches intently and nobody eats or drinks because it’s so interesting? It’s true! I’ve told that to my kids, and I would never lie to them!

Look, I know I’m wrong. You all hate me. This column is about to be canceled by the North Idaho soccer mob. I’m sorry for my inexcusable, insensitive words. I’ll never utter a bad word about it again. Just as long as you don’t make me stand there on the sideline.

• • •

Tyler Wilson is a freelance writer and stay-at-home dad to four kids, ages 4-10. His kids like soccer. He can be reached at twilson@cdapress.com.

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