Intro to Soccer Parenting: Nobody Wins, Everybody Guzzles Water

Eli plays soccerI didn’t expect a recreation of the World Cup when I dropped Elijah off to soccer this week. I figured I’d watch a gaggle of toddlers running around with no discernible plan beyond kicking the ball until they collapsed.

We saw some of that during Elijah’s soccer league meet. I also got a glimpse into modern parenting as well as how coddled our kids are these days.

What I know about the game of soccer could fit in a thimble with enough spare room for Andre the Giant’s thumb. I decided to join my wife to watch Elijah play anyway. Even if I couldn’t offer him guidance I could throw some moral support his way.

The group began with drills, which were more like a series of games that happened to occur on a soccer field. Later, when the kids were dutifully drilled up, or out, or through, the game began. It looked like soccer to me, the kind I used to play in gym where everyone loitered near the ball and no one thought about defense or where the ball will bounce next.

Then it was time for a water break.

Now, this wasn’t a typically blazing Denver day, nor had the children exerted themselves in extreme fashion. But it’s never bad to have some water, right? Well, it turns out that every five minutes is “water break time,” and I started to think of that radio station stunt where a woman drank so much water she died. Elijah wasn’t in any danger except from severe over-coddling. First world problems, I suppose.

The parents around us all seemed like decent folk, and they cheered on their kids in a modest but friendly fashion. It reminded me of watching my nephew play sports, a troubling experience based solely on the intensity of the crowd. It’s one thing to wildly cheer on a high schooler with dreams of scholarships and gridiron glory. It’s quite another to treat an 11-year-old’s game like the Super Bowl.

The Secrets of Happy Families” covers this topic beautifully, offering good instructions for parents tempted to make a spectacle of themselves.

Elijah gave it a solid effort, but he was more interested in bonding with his teammates than pursuing the ball. The other team featured two players who clearly “got it,” and they weaved around the field in near expert fashion while everyone else looked like soccer was the fourth or fifth subject on their mind.

I sat, and watched, and thought, “welcome to the world of a soccer parent.” Man, I could use a drink.


  1. Maureen Toto says

    How wonderful to be with his buds. The soccer socks are the most important item. Eli will be fine and well hydrated.

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