More Evidence of Pussification

I know I’ve touched on this before, but check out Black Hockey Jesus’ post about attending one of his kid’s soccer games recently.

In a nutshell, before the season started all the parents had to sign a “spectator contract” in which they agreed not to boo or shout anything negative at the games. Furthermore, they can’t yell at the referees and they are REQUIRED to ask their kids “what was the most fun?” after each and every game.


Look, I’m not advocating the screaming of obscenities and no one likes to see that crazed (and possibly drunk) parent humiliating himself, his kid and everyone else around him at a youth sporting event. And yes, some parents can get out of hand. A few years ago two dads got into a fight at a hockey game north of Boston and one of them beat the other to death. That is just crazy and there’s no place for it.

However, the pussification of kids is spreading to the parents. I want to say right now, that I would NEVER have signed this document. And it’s not because I plan on shouting at the top of my lungs. But I know for sure I’d end up questioning some of the ref’s calls if they were terrible. And besides, we are talking about competition here. Winning and losing. Taking pride in beating the other team. And, if a kid illegally slide-tackled my kid on a breakaway and the ref didn’t blow the whistle, you can bet your ass I’d be hollering from the sidelines at least a little bit.

You can’t legislate common sense. Parents should know not to make asses of themselves on the sidelines. And if they do get out of hand, they should be removed. But questioning a call on the field is not getting out of hand. It’s natural and perfectly acceptable as long as it’s not done in an inappropriate or threatening manner.

Besides, the best sporting events I can recall from my youth involved hard feelings. I was an summer league all star in baseball and there were specific teams we just hated. Whenever we played Franklin or Foxboro we knew tensions would run high. We’d hear crap from the players and we’d catch shit from the parents. And you know what? It made the game better. More intense. It got out juices flowing and made us rise to another level. Hell, one time Foxboro tried to steal one of our bats after my best friend hit a walkoff homerun. There was nearly a bench clearing brawl as my buddy went over to their bench while screaming at the coach, dumped out their equipment bag and took back what was his.

I don’t recall these things with fear and loathing. I remember them as some of the best times of my childhood. But now everything has changed. If that game was played today, there would’ve been no walkoff homerun because nobody would’ve been keeping score for God’s sake. Because today we live in a world where everyone is equal and everything ends in a friendly tie. It’s a generation of sister kissers now and it makes me ill to think this is what’s in store for Will as he gets older and starts playing team sports.

But one thing’s for sure: I am NEVER signing any stupid contract and the referees will hear me!

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16 thoughts on “More Evidence of Pussification

  1. OMG – signed contracts? I would never have been allowed anywhere near the fields!

  2. Yeah… Way to take the fun out of it. What if the Superbowl or the World Series was no longer a competition? This world is getting far too politically correct for not wanting to upset kids.

  3. Have you been to a kids soccer game lately? Usually the calls are pretty clear givrn that their skills are not mature enough to be that agressive lol…I think mainly it’s so that you don’t see the mean and insecure parents screaming horrible things to their children…I once saw a man screaming to his teenage daughter telling her she was horrible and slow at a track…she was running to qualify for her blackbelt-everyone there was astonished, he should have been removed-but there were no rules to enforce. If there was a contract-he would have been out of htere.

  4. Meri, there doesn’t need to be any contracts to remove someone from a sporting event. And besides, I don’t even think a bullshit, wussy contract like that is even enforceable. For instance, if I was the parent and I didn’t sign it, what would they do? Not let me watch my kid’s game? It’s just dumb.

    No contract is going to fix an ignorant parent.

  5. Most contracts aren’t worth the paper that they’re printed on, but that’s not the point. The point is that there is an established level of acceptable behavior that is being established in a particular venue.

    I agree that some of these rules in the contract are odd, but what age group are the players? I coached soccer for 7 & 8 year olds and some of these rules would have been very helpful. Luckily, 99% of the parents were very supportive of my coaching even when I gave their child criticism on their play. Not all coaches are this lucky.

    It’s hard enough to teach young children the fundamentals of soccer (or any other sport) without some d-bag parent yelling at the ref, coach, and/or chastising their child. Young children don’t learn how to play or respect the game that way. How often have you blasted a player who loafs, mouths off, or doesn’t ‘respect the game’? Illegal slide tackles happen. I’ve both given and received them. They are part of the game. Picking yourself up and keeping up with the play is more important than mouthing off to the ref. No matter how much influence a coach has, children ultimately learn from watching their parent(s). If the child hears their parent or parents constantly berating the ref or other nonsense they will start to do the same instead of just playing the game.

    I think holding yourself in check and allowing the game to proceed without interjection teaches the child far more about how to conduct oneself not only in sports, but in the real world as well.

  6. The established level of acceptable behavior is already in place. Everyone knows you don’t act like a complete freak at a kid’s sporting event. But there’s a difference between arguing a call and rampaging like a crazed rhino shouting obscenities on the sideline. I don’t see anything wrong with questioning an occasional bad call from the ref, as long as you’re not being a dick in the process.

    I agree that the age group matters. If it’s a bunch of 5 and 6 years old learning the game then that’s fine. Have the games end in a tie. You’re teaching fun and fundamentals. But I believe starting at 9 or 10, you should definitely keep score. Fun is still the name of the game, but at that age it’s time to start teaching kids that there are winners and losers.

    The point here, is that the whole idea of this contract is absurd and unnecessary. And it lends itself to this idiotic notion nowadays which seems to promote mediocrity and punish competitive excellence.

  7. Did you ever see the episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond” where Ray gets in trouble for comments on his son’s basketball playing ability during games? It is hysterical, and reminds me of this situation.

    Youth sports don’t have to be and should not be life-and-death affairs. But this example is extreme. I would tell them to take their contract and shove it up their increibly tight asses.

  8. So, on the one hand, I’m all “wow, that’s STUPID,” because it is.

    But, on the other, my son is in soccer. We have one parent who is so vile, so offensive, and so horrible that he literally stands at the sidelines berating the members of his son’s team who aren’t, well, good. I’m talking swearing, I’m talking horrible, and I’m talking inappropriate.

    These kids? ARE 7. And at age 7, there are only a few kids who are any good at the game. It’s unnecessary and it’s inappropriate.

    So on THAT hand, I see where they’re coming from.

  9. Aunt Becky, I’ve seen these type of parents-and yes I think that people SHOULD be smart and decent enough to “know the rules” but there are idiots out there that need these rules so that they can be enforced.

    It is unfortunate, Aaron and Old Guy-and it probably has nothing to do with the dad who wants to question a legit bad call, but the point is that the kids don’t need to learn what is and isn’t a bad call at this age-they need to learn the game and authority.

  10. Oh, boy, here we go again, Aaron. I’m sure I’ll be getting yelled at, but I’m with you on this one as far as the pussification goes. I, for one, have had it with this crap. There are no winners? Everyone gets a medal? No tag on the playground because someone’s feelings might get hurt? It’s a joke.

    These kids are being coddled to the point that when they actually do play in a “real” game, 15-year olds will be crying if they don’t get to play in the game or, god forbid, if they lose. You can forget about teams playfully taunting each other. The kids can’t take it or, more to the point, their parents will have a hissy and cry foul.

    Growing up playing pretty much every sport around here, there were some total dickhead parents that would get way out of hand. Of course, nobody should be allowed to swear or belittle the kids. What would happen back then? The coach would have a talk with them and kick them out if it kept up or another parent would set them straight with a little “Hey, Buddy” talk. We all survived just fine back then without contracts and with teams actually not playing to a tie every time and letting the kids razz the other team a little bit.

    You’re in for a HUGE shocker when you see what goes on with kids in school and in sports these days. It just keeps getting worse every day. Sad but true, man.

  11. Meri –

    It is not really a matter of questioning a call. I have seen parents who yelled out to their kid “You have to cover the guy – stay with him!” be berated by others who said they were not “being positive”. Any critical comment can be seen as a “violation” of the contract.

    Kids do need to learn the game, and to have fun. And there will always be parents who are jerks and cross the line. But having a contract for behavior is silly – not to mention unreasonable. You want to use guidelines? No problem.

  12. So basically, what you are all saying is that when my son is old enough to play all I have to look forward to is critical and out of line parents or (in my experience with friends’ kids) parents that can’t be bothered to show up at all??

    Gee- can’t wait ’til the boy is old enough.

  13. That’s a good point Erica. Which is worse:

    Parents that don’t show up or parents who show up but act like assholes?

  14. Seriously…I know there are crazy parents out there who do yell at their kid, but I don’t think it is as common as some think. I have 6 siblings. I’d gone to my sibling’s sport game (baseball, basketball, soccer, etc…) since I was a toddler and played sports myself. I don’t remember a single crazy parent.

    Why is the contract needed? Why can’t we all just deal with the crazies as they happen instead of putting boundaries up on everyone? So dumb.

  15. We had a father who was ‘nodding off’ on the side lines. The other parents were commenting that maybe he works overnights. Unfortunately, in my line of work, I knew exactly what was wrong with him. Frankly, I was impressed that he was making such an effort to have his child enrolled in sports and showing up at the crack of dawn practices. Other parents would probably have been horrified and of the opinion that he shouldn’t be there.

    There just isn’t a way to draft a contract that will cover all the bases. It’s ridiculous to even attempt it. The leagues I’ve dealt with so far have had League Rules already in place. If the parents don’t adhere to that any thing above and beyond is pretty futile.

  16. I think there are so many “fears” out there of exactly what we are describing as what constitutes “bad” parenting or bad behavior as a parent.

    There are SO many complaints (legit or NOT) that the coaches and ref’s HAVE to hear out and as most of the coaches ARE parents, and therefore peers of all the parents involved, you need to have defined lines of what is okay and what is NOT okay.

    I AGREE with Aaron’s classification of “pussification” because it’s true.

    I think there is a fine line of the parent who wants the child to win because they didn’t and what about the child that plays for the parent…And what is the tone of “Stay with it, you have to cover them…”



    If it is to protect the child from berating in front of the other spectators, I totally agree with it. No one wants to witness the verbal abuse or support it in that case. It should NOT be allowed. Unfortunately, it does happen. How does one stop it? Well, you can’t go to their house and say “You can’t talk to your child that way…” but you can stop them from saying it at a public game. Hence, the contract.

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