The American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) is a nationwide youth soccer organization. Both of my sons played in the AYSO from the ages 8 to 12. I am extremely thankful for all of the time and effort provided by volunteer coaches and referees. Youth soccer in the US is really just a game of "kick and chase a ball". Parents scream, "Kick the ball, (insert child's name here)". Of the 20 players on the field (not including the two goalies), 14 young soccer players run towards the ball and kick the ball in a random directions. The other six players are looking at the plane flying over head, admiring the beautiful yellow dandelion flowers in the grass or having a conversation with a fellow teammate. The referee blows the whistle and the final score is either 1-0 or 12-0. This is when the fun (for me) begins.
At conclusion of the game, the parents jump out of their camping chairs, run toward the center of the field, extend their arms at a 45 degree angle above their head and form the "Yeah Bridge". The kids run through the human tunnel as the parents sing in unison, "Yeahhhhhhhhh." Do the kids care that they lost the game by double digits? Do they care that they didn't use the fundamental skills of dribbling and passing the ball that their coach taught them during practice? Heck no. Post-game priority is snacks and Capri Sun juice pouches. We tell our kids, "You did a great job", even though the other team just hung a dozen goals on their team. And the score would have been even more lopsided if the opposing coach didn't pull their best player out of the game in the middle of the game.
The kids leave the field with a belly full of sugars and an over-inflated view of their talents and skills. I have never participated in a "Yeah Bridge.". Why celebrate kids running in a park...this is called "recess" or "playing" if parents are not sitting on the sidelines. I blame my generation. We screwed it up. Some how our children are precious and can never feel any shame, pain or strain. We are not doing our kids any favors by providing them with a false of accomplishment and self-esteem. One of the largest obstacles astronauts face in space is zero-gravity. The body deteriorates without outside forces. About 25% of the International Space Station's crew members time is spent imposing physical stress on their bodies. Force, tension and resistance make the body and the mind stronger
Will either of my sons ever play in the World Cup...? NO WAY. What they were able to do is learn some basic soccer fundamentals, make friends and increase their chances of getting childhood diabetes from the metric ton of Rice Crispy Treats they consumed post-game. They also recognized when I was truly proud of them after they made beautiful pass, hustled to their position or lent a hand to teammate or opponent that fell on the field. Self-esteem is earned and not given. Please provide our children with an environment of support and love by providing accolades when they actually accomplish or improve on a task or activity.
My college Biology students will be taking an exam next Thursday. I told them to study hard and to take advantage of campus resources to succeed in the class. Most of my students will not do very well on my first exam. As a matter of fact this may be the first time for several of them to fail an exam. But that's okay..I told them that I will form a "Yeah Bridge" for them as they leave the classroom. At least they will FEEL better about themselves. Unfortunately for them, I do not provide snacks and juice boxes after the test.
But what the heck do I know...I'm just Joe.
I am a husband, father, son, brother, uncle, friend and Biology professor. We are on this Earth for a limited amount of time. Let's think, laugh and love.