Saturday, September 13, 2008

How Soccer Mom's Ruined the World

Multi-millionaire professional football player Vince Young, the quarterback for the Tennessee Titans is sad. You see, people keep booing him because he sucks. The fans of that particular team seem to think that for the amount of money he’s being paid that the very least VY could do is to not suck quite as hard as he does.

Vince sees it differently though. His mommy—yes folks, the multi-millionaire professional athlete’s mommy has stepped into the fray—feels that fans are being unfair to her baby boy. She says that he doesn’t even want to play football anymore because he’s so depressed. She blames the ignorant fans who are being big meanies to the apple of her eye. I blame her.

This is just an example—albiet on a larger stage—of something going on all over our country. It’s a result of scourge of America, the blight of our times, the most evil force this country has ever fought: I’m speaking, of course, about soccer mom’s.

Now, when I say soccer mom’s, I’d like to make it clear that I’m not singling out mom’s who’s kids play soccer. I’m talking about sports mom’s in general—basketball, baseball, soccer, swimming, hockey, badminton, what-have-you. They are the, “self-esteem Nazis.” They are the, “everyone wins,” coalition. They are the “my kid is a genius, star athlete, perfect specimen, best looking” person ever to walk the face of this earth federation.

These are the people who emphasize fairness in all things, complete and total equality and despite their misguided attempt at making a better world, they are actually destroying our youth.

The movement started a while back and I got to see it first hand as a youth coach and athletic director for middle school aged kids. I attended the athletic board meetings and watched as the bored, unfulfilled housewives asserted themselves and nagged, bitched, whined and complained until they got their way—as a way of feeling empowered and important, in the name of the ideal of fair play.

These soccer mom’s found willing allies in a select group of men who have played an equally vital role in the destruction of our youth, the picked-last-for-kickball dads. You might remember these guys from gym class as the guys who had to wait until the very end when captains were alternately selecting their teammates. These are the guys who had no athletic ability and no desire to play sports, but who were made to stand through the picking of sides until the very end, when the athletic team captains would loudly ask their newly picked team which of the “losers” left would suck the least.

All grown up and still carrying that chip on their shoulders, this group of dads were willing accomplices to the steamrolling soccer mom’s and a revolution was born. Winning and more specifically losing, have been de-emphasized. Everybody wins, is the new catchphrase. Working hard and improving skill were overlooked and playing time was doled out in equal parts. Everybody plays!

These parents decided to place a cocoon around their kids and rob them of the valuable lessons that sports can teach. In the real world, everyone does not, in fact, win. In the real world, everyone is not given equal time and chances. If you want to get ahead, you have to work harder than everyone else and if you don’t, you lose.

The generations of everybody wins kids is reaching adulthood now the real world is crushing them like bugs. They are apathetic because apathy is what was taught to them. It can be argued that these parents, the soccer moms and last-picked-dads were well intentioned—boosting their children’s self esteems and fixing wrongs that were perpetrated upon them when they were kids. I’m not so sure the motives are that pure though.

What I witnessed was a group of dads out for revenge and a group of moms who desperately needed to cling to some notion of their kid being superior—destined for better than they have it.

The idea that ever child is special is cute and quaint. It’s just not true. Some kids aren’t as smart as others. Some aren’t as artistic as others. Some aren’t as athletic as others. Herein lies the problem. Square peg, meet round hole, round hole, this is square peg.

What these “concerned” parents should have been doing was helping their kids find out where their talents were and encouraged them to succeed by using those talents. Instead, they picked athletics as their battleground and won their war. What they should have done was placed the highest emphasis on the area the child showed the most potential in and encouraged them. If the kid wasn’t an athlete, but showed promise as an artist, then the time spent at practices and games would have been better spent at art schools and camps. If the kid was charismatic and had a flair for the dramatic, they should have been enrolled in acting classes and local plays.

The thing is that we ARE all special. We’re just not all special at sports.

Had these parents not been so hell bent on ruining athletics, they may have seen that the best path wasn’t one in which everyone wins-everyone plays, but one in which their child was best suited to shine. Had they been willing to think back to their days of waiting until the end to be picked, they might have realized that self-esteem doesn’t come from a game where score isn’t kept or in which everyone plays the same amount of time, but from succeeding.

These soccer moms don’t want their kids to turn out like them—bored and unfulfilled. So their answer is to build them up, place them on a pedestal and see no wrong in anything they do. These dads don’t want sons to suffer the humiliations they did, so jump on the bandwagon and the resulting problems they cause are going to become an issue for all of us.

Learning to lose is important. It’s in losing that we gain the desire to win—and when that child becomes an adult, in business and in life, winning means something. Fair play and equality do not exist. If you want something, you have to earn it, you have to fight for it, you have to put the work in to gain success. These parents are robbing their children of one of the greatest introductions a kid can have to the real world.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the opposite end of the spectrum, because it does exist and is also readily able to be witnessed in youth athletics. These are the rouge coaches, many trying to relive past glories, who are simply out of control in their need to win. These coaches are as much instigators of the problem as the previously mentioned parents, albeit in a more indirect way.

These rouge coaches stir the pot and instigate the soccer moms and last-picked dads into action. And rightfully so, because these coaches are menaces of an equal degree, the problem lies in the way these coaches are dealt with. Like everything else, our country deals in polarized views and no one ever seems to understand that neither extreme can ever be right.

This all brings me back to our friend Vince Young and his Mommy. He was a star in high school, where his talent alone carried him through. He was a star in college where he worked a bit and got some good coaching and that combined with his talent got him through again. Like a funnel, he started off in a wide pool that has been getting more and more narrow. He is now on a stage with the very elite, the best of the best and proverbial going has gotten tough.

Vince Young isn’t going to get going though. He chooses to be sad. He’s not the best anymore. He’s not getting by anymore. If he wants to remain elite, he has to work for it, he has to win it, he has to persevere and overcome the obstacles placed before him. He chooses to sulk instead. And his mommy is mad because people are booing her baby boy. She’s calling them out and telling them that they are all wrong, still coddling the monster she created.

This is just the beginning. And it’s just the brightest example of this phenomenon. The stories are becoming more and more prevalent of parents calling companies that have turned their kids down for jobs to complain, of parents calling employers to complain about the unfair treatment of their kids by their superiors. Mommy and Daddy are coming to the rescue of a helpless generation, because they don’t know how to stand on their own. They don’t know how to succeed. They don’t know how to work hard. They don’t know how to win.

Utopian societies have never been achieved, but take a good look at the next crop of kids who are set to become adults. They all arrive on pedestals. Worship them, or face the wrath of their angry mommies!


PenguinsWalkAmoungUs said...

I can't disagree with what you're saying (in large part because I believe that our failures/losses teach us more than our successes). I have to say, though, that another aspect of this is that so many parents are dilletantes who took the easy way out themselves and not only expect their kids to be great at sports but great at EVERY sport or hobby. It's great to encourage passion, but it should never be feigned and never fostered for the wrong reasons. In the end, you just can't live vicariously through someone else; you can only live through your own experiences. Projecting your ego everywhere is no way to live, and I wish more parents recognised that.
It never killed me to lose.

exboss said...

Nicely done - can you write a blog about two faced, back stabbing people without mentioning names?