Amended to add: It's 3am, and I actually woke up, worried that someone might read this (heaven forbid, someone local who knows a kid on the other team) and think I was bashing the other players or their parents. That wasn't my intention, although I think it might have come across that way. They are a good group of kids, and a few of them interact lots with the boys on our team and seem to enjoy their company. Just that with some people, players and parents, there is this level of competitiveness that I don't understand. A win-at-all-costs mentality that I find silly in an eleven year old soccer (or insert sport of your choice) league.
And what bothers me specifically about it is the people who have it, seem to think less of people who don't. They look at us like we're weak; we look at them like they're obnoxious.
I heard a parent from one of the teams we played this weekend (it's awesome taking pictures from behind the goal ... you would be amazed at what you hear from the other teams when they don't think you can hear them) tell his son, "You need to get a lot more physical this half, just make sure you do it outside of the box." This was from the game that warranted four poor sportsmanship cards. And for those of you who aren't familiar with soccer, a foul inside the box warrants a free goal kick (ie, potential goal) whereas a penalty outside the box is just a free kick. So he was basically telling his son, "Fouling them is ok, just don't do it in a spot that could cost us."
And you know, if that's the attitude it takes to compete in sports, then I'll be steering my son towards trombone lessons in the future. For now, I'm just going to remain grateful that he's on a team of boys (with parents) who feel like we do --- a little fresh air, a little sunshine, play your best (preferably withOUT yellow cards) and have fun.
I hate poor sports. Specifically, people who whine and complain and always have an excuse when their team loses. Even *more* specifically, people who whine and complain when their CHILD'S team loses.
The refs weren't fair.
The other team cheated.
Discrepancies in the scorekeeping.
The sun was in my eyes.
I hate when the parents act like that because it's obnoxious. It's annoying. It gives out a bad representation; where do you think the kids learn it?
Of course it's more fun to win than to lose, that's not exactly ground-breaking news, but really, parents everywhere should set a better example.
Now, with that public service announcement out of the way, I'd like to commence with the bitching about Kellen's soccer tournament in Arkansas this weekend.
We had our first game Saturday morning at 8am and we lost, 5-0. I guess if I was going to throw excuses out there, it would be that the team we played was a local team, and the boys on our team had all driven four hours to get there on Friday evening and stayed in a hotel Friday night, so we probably weren't quite as well-rested. Not to mention the two players on our team who got up at 3am and drove to the fields Saturday morning. But I won't make those excuses because the other team, plain and simple, was better than our team. We hung in there fairly well, but they were just bigger and faster and worked better together. No excuses.
Our second game was Saturday afternoon and we tied, 4-4. If you ask the parents on *our* team, we actually won by one goal. A goal that the referee called back due to some funky tournament rule none of us had ever heard of .... my other excuse would be that the boys on the other team played rough. Rough to the point of dirty. Dirty enough that there were four yellow cards called in one game ... I don't think I've seen four yellow cards the entire year, and there were four in this game for shoving and pushing and intentional tripping. And that was only the four times it was blatant enough that they got caught. There was plenty more going on behind the scenes .... I know. I was there, with a camera. The other team wasn't necessarily bigger or better or faster, they were just more aggressive, and that's not how our boys are used to playing.
But the boys didn't seem too upset. We took them back to the hotel afterwards and they swam in the pool, played elevator tag, then we took them out to a matinee, then we had a pizza party, and then they all collapsed in bed at an early hour .... like the world's funnest slumber party, according to Kellen. This hotel, as per Kellen, is second in the world for fun ONLY to the Great Wolf Lodge. And of course the beauty in that was I only had ONE boy in my room, as opposed to all eleven of them.
This morning's 8am game had us matched against another team that was bigger ... faster .... better ..... we lost again, 4-1. And with that, we were officially out of the tournament. Hey, wait a second. Something seems suspicious here. Kellen's team, the U-11 "B" team in his league, seemed genuinely, truly outmatched the entire tournament. And the "A" team in our league won all three of their tournament games, 5-0, 8-0, and 10-0.
Does anyone else sense anything fishy here?
Yep, tournament officials confirmed it at our last game. They accidentally switched our "A" team and our "B" team at registration and we played each other's games the entire tournament.
Well, that pretty much sucks.
On the one hand, we can feel good about the fact we were in the wrong bracket and at least the games weren't total routs. Yeah, we got beat, but we didn't get creamed. We did a pretty decent job of keeping up and even managed to score in two of the games. It was a great learning experience, and let our coach get a good look at the areas where we need improvement. Most importantly the boys got to play a sport they love.
Blah, blah, end Susie Sunshine.
Is it wrong that a small part of me is annoyed? Not even that we drove eight hours round trip and paid for two nights in a hotel and tournament fees and all those meals out, and didn't win a single game, but because they never had a realistic chance to win a single game? And not even because they didn't win, because losing is part of life too, yadda yadda, that's not what bothered me. But a few of the boys on the "A" team were gloating about how much better they did, and how there was "no challenge" at this tournament (as if they were playing soccer and yawning at the same time) I just wanted to get down in their little eleven-year old faces and say, "You were playing OUR games, against "B" teams, you arrogant little brats" and honestly, an even smaller part of me just wanted to pinch them.
Because I'm a grown up like that.
For the record, I don't think there is a HUGE difference in the skill levels of the "A" team and "B" team in this league. It's more a difference in attitude. I certainly can't speak for sports teams everywhere ... but in this particular league, in this particular age group, our "A" team has more ego .... more drama .... more attitude. Truthfully, we "B" team parents have sat back this year and watched, commenting to one about how glad and relieved we are that our "B" team boys seem to genuinely like one another and enjoy spending time together, both on and off the field. Sure, they're always happy to win -- who isn't? -- but they also enjoy playing just for the fun of it. They encourage one another on the field, and are quick to congratulate a goal, and even quicker to "you'll get 'em next time!" when a goal is missed. Of course, that laid-back attitude comes through at practice, and games, and I think the "A" team players and parents look down on us a little bit for it. Which is ridiculous, because they're in the FIFTH GRADE for goodness' sake, and you'd think they'd be thrilled just that their boys are having fun, but as anyone who has kids, who play sports anywhere can probably tell you .......... some parents are living vicariously and are pretty pathetic about it, and it shows through in their attitude. And shit rolls downhill, if you know what I mean.
We went back to the hotel this morning after our game, knowing full well we didn't make the "A" bracket semi-finals, and the boys wanted to swim again before checking out. So we let them. And they made up this fun water/soccer/baseball/kickball type game, and were throwing and catching and leaping into the pool and squealing with happiness like little girls. Kellen came over to me at one point and when I asked if he was having fun he replied, "Yeah, this is the most awesome trip ever!" and at that moment, I was reminded of what mattered, and knew that win or lose, the trip was totally worth it.
They are a great group of boys, and a great group of parents, and we've truly enjoyed ourselves these past nine months. I'm not going to pout about a stupid registration mistake at a tournament.
After all, I'm a grown up. Who is a good sport.
Instead I preferred chortling when I heard our "A" team, who, **shockingly** (finger quotes) did make it into the semi-finals, had to play in the cold front that blew into Arkansas today, with temps in the high 30's and 30 mph north winds. Their game took place while we were eating left-over pizza by the indoor heated pool.
And the team that beat us 4-1? They beat our "A" team in the semi-finals ...... (wait for it, wait for it ....) 4-1.
Clearly, Kellen understands the value in enjoying time spent at an out-of-state tournament, whether you win or lose. It's all about the elevator tag.
His mother, on the other hand, is just shallow enough to gain a small sense of satisfaction in knowing our boys played just as well against the same team.
(small print) Because deep down, I am apparently a very poor sport.