Over the last couple of years, as my daughter has progressed in soccer leagues, both rec and competitive, I have begun to notice a change in the behaviors of the parents and even some of the coaches.
Gone is anything around positivity and learning and developing. The parents I speak of yell at the referees for every infraction against their kid or their team while simultaneously believing everything should be being called non-stop on the other team.
This culminated in one of the last tournaments my daughter was at in that, objectively, the reffing was pretty bad in both directions.
The thing is though as parents we need to realize that the referees at this tournament and level are very much made up of a lot of the players from higher age groups and we look like petulant children in how we behave.
This is a horrible way to show them what the future holds for them, they are there typically in some part due to their love of soccer.
I came across some parents online speaking of ROOTS as an acronym for Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates, and Self. Below I will go into each segment but overall it is a concept around removing the win-at-all-costs mentality and to teach valuable principles to our children and hopefully others through our actions.
I was upset with what occurred in that game with the referee and the calls made, but I controlled myself so that I don’t do anything stupid to dishonor the team and game. That is an important lesson for life that I want you to learn from soccer.Josh
Develop your own version of or routine for maintaining self-control to make sure you don’t dishonor the team and game with a loss in your own self-control.
Think about when you watch professional sports and how you can get positive or negative examples. Then look to use these events as teachable moments.
When an incident occurs, whether something is covered by the media or something you and your children experience during their own games, let your kids know what you think about it.
An even more sounds strategy is to ask them to talk about it without offering your opinion. If our kids can come to the conclusion that something is or isn’t honoring the game and then be able to put it into their own words then they are more likely to retain what they have learned.
From a sports fight or verbal exchange to exemplary sportsmanship can serve to start a conversation with your child. If you ignore or don’t discuss any negative incidents with your child they may take it as an approval of the misbehavior. Always make your thoughts clear:
I know you look up to that athlete, but fighting on the field is not acceptable under any circumstances. I expect you to never be involved in anything like that.
There are some key things you can do during the game day to help build up your child. These things all can help make sure that they will respond appropriately to the stressors in the game and to ensure they will always honor the game.
This is about more than just “a game” it is about a life of honoring hard work, practice, and sacrifice. It is about teaching our kids that they need self-control through self-regulation.
They need to be able to control themselves when their anger gets the better of them. They also need to know they will not always win and that losses drive you to become even better.
But it won’t happen if you don’t have control to understand and evaluate what occurred, why it occurred and how you can stop it from occurring in the future.
Don’t be that parent that others on the team are embarrassed by, don’t think that the referee isn’t aware if they missed or blew a call. Don’t trash the other team and their kids because they are playing better and winning. Be the responsible adult you should be and work on building your kids up through honesty and helping them prepare themselves.