Stereotypes are often based on reality. There is a great deal of truth in the Soccer Mom stereotype of constant transportation from school to home to practice to home to games to home to training to…all the while in a Mini-van sufficient loaded with snacks, Gatorade (the 2000’s answer to Kool-Aid), and with some (but not all) of your own children and some (but not all) of your friends’ children.
The schedule might modify. The Mini-Van might be an SUV. But the basic creature is the same. This is the person who works relentless throughout the week. When the father comes home bushed from working and is ready to relax after a “hard day’s work,” the mother has just punched in for her evening shift after already working the morning, mid-morning, afternoon and late-afternoon duty.
But on the weekend the Soccer Father comes out. This is the guy who is 50-100 pounds overweight yelling at his son/daughter to “Suck it up! Run harder! You aren’t out of energy!” Or who is convinced he knows the rules better than the referee and was blessed with eagle vision, giving him the ability to clearly see that forward was 2.2 centimeters offside and the fact the referee missed such an obvious call may require an after-game lynching. The Soccer Father knows coaching better than the coach.
Things I have heard from Soccer Fathers:
“Get up! This isn’t a spectator sport!” (His daughter was still cart wheeling in the air after being leg-swept.)
“JESUS FUCKING CHRIST! That was the THIRD time you crossed the line! Don’t you have any God DAMNED SENSE?!” (The boy was 9.)
“Take that player out!” (As in “cause him some injury.”)
“Your kid got what he deserved!” (To the other player down on the ground.)
And of course the famous—“No Call! No Call!” meaning the trip should be ignored, equally followed by the “Where is the Call?!” meaning the trip on our team must be whistled.
Not all Soccer Mothers or Soccer Fathers are like this, obviously. As one referee put it to us this past weekend, “There is one on every team.” Often it is only one. Yet the one that shows up is always…interesting.
Together we are Soccer Parents. As Soccer Parents we interact with other Soccer Parents. We see each other and chat about this team or that. This coach, or this player. We may be in the same league and playing each other on Saturday, but Sunday – Friday we are as pleasant and polite and happy as can be.
However on Game day we develop a completely different relationship with the other team’s Parents. They are “those” parents. We sit on our side. They sit on theirs. In-betwixt exits an imaginary line which is only rarely crossed, and never breached. We may occasionally nod to the other parents. Speaking feels like a concession to the enemy.
We are aghast when the “other” Soccer Parents dare question a call in our favor. We are equally aghast when the “other” Soccer Parents don’t see how the next call should never have gone against us. Our Parents yell “encouragement.” The “others” yell criticism.
The reality? There could be a mirror on that in-between line. We are really looking at ourselves. On Monday those parents are taking their sons and daughters to soccer/ballet/competitive horse racing. So are we. They hurt when their children hurt. So do we. They yell just like we yell.
Yet on game day—when we are at war—we treat those most like us as the enemy.