Taking the fun out of sports
There seems to be a "scandal" every week in professional sports. Was it two or three weeks ago that Tiger took the media hit? I would hardly vilify the golf phenom for his use of the word "spaz" in describing his less than stellar putting during the Masters; especially since this word can be found in most dictionaries and is defined as "one who is considered to be clumsy or inept." Was this not his exact meaning? Hmmm, what am I missing?
And then this week it was Mets broadcaster Keith Hernandez and his Neanderthal view on women in sports. His back pedaling after standing firm behind his comments is sad. Also competing for San Diego scandal airtime is the Reggie Bush "house gate" brouhaha.
While there's a long history of sporting infamy, when the politics and negativity reach younger athletes, it's a downright shame. One of my yoga friend's 14 year old daughter is a stellar soccer player. She lives it, breathes it, loves it. Just the way it should be. She even went to Brazil to train! Wow! (I played soccer as a kid and even played in college, but Brazil, not a chance.)
Anyway, this young woman (nicknamed Rocket) wants to excel and do the best she can, which in sports means playing, training and being coached by the best. And, from what I understand, in San Diego the Surf Soccer Club is the best. So Rocket, who currently plays for one club, wants to try out, and if she makes the cut, play for this other club next season. She wants to trade up. There's no guarantee she'll make the team. The competition is fierce. Tryouts are next month. To help her chances, Rocket attended a Surf team practice so the coaches could get a look at her play.
Unfortunately for Rocket, her current coach looked unfavorably on this action. Instead of recognizing that this young chic may be ready to fly the coop and guiding her out of the proverbial nest, her coach gave her a firm and swift kick; off the team; right before the state championships. Yep, that's right. Because 14 year old Rocket practiced with another team, she's lost her starting slot on her current team.
Aren't coaches supposed to be proud to see their players excel and support their ambitions? College scholarships ride on this sort of thing. Grant it, if Rocket makes the Surf team she could face off against her former teammates. What's wrong with that? Making things worse, the team was informed that Rocket was a "traitor" and had been practicing with this other team all season. Not true.
Is youth soccer so competitive today that players are kicked off their teams for their higher aspirations?
Back when I played, I clearly remember parents getting pretty rowdy on the sidelines, but our coaches always stuck to the game and let this sort of misplaced passion roll off their backs. They set the example.
And what about last year's San Diego story about another young soccer star; Jamel Wallace; whose high school coach encouraged him to play for the elite Surf Club because it would help Jamel realize his talent. Grant it, Jamel would still play for the high school team, but I'd like to think that his coach was truly looking out for this young man. The story confirmed that "the switch helped turn Wallace from an exceptional athlete to a nuanced soccer player." Jamel now plays for the San Diego State Aztecs.
While the Rocket story is still unfolding, I do understand that a number of coaches from other teams have offered to help her prepare for the Surf tryouts-I'll let you know how she does