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We Don't Need Soccer Moms—or Dads, or Coaches

Between the two of them, Carlo Celli and Nathan Richardson—both language professors at Bowling Green State University in Ohio—have coached youth soccer for about 30 years.

Sweet, right? Actually, they say they were doing it all wrong. The problem isn't that they were coaching improperly. It's that they were coaching, period.

All kids really need to learn the game, Richardson says now, is "a ball, a place to play and some older kids to play with them." Instead, we have delivered them into the soccer-industrial complex—a top-down, adult-run, structured, supervised system that drains all the joy out of the game and, not coincidentally, all the creative genius. Celli and Richardson submit that the reason the U.S. men's professional team was knocked out of World Cup contention so early is that we're raising "soccer robots."

They didn't always feel that way. For a long time, the two men happily put local kids through their drills, starting as young as age 3. Then one morning, two of their 9-year-old players showed up to practice with their younger sisters, and one brought along another kid who hadn't played soccer before. The day was shot—they'd just have to let everyone goof off.

The kids proceeded to do just that, running around like puppies and making up moves. They laughed and yelped, and when the hour was up, they didn't want to go home. Celli and Richardson saw something they hadn't witnessed since their own childhoods: kids who weren't practicing the game. They were playing it.

And that, they realized, is the key. To get good at a game, kids need to play it, and adults need to get out of the way. So they stopped interfering and saw their players improve week by week. Their new book, Shoeless Soccer: Fixing the System and Winning the World Cup (Carlo Celli), is inspired by that experience, and by Pelé, the greatest soccer player of all time, who was known as "The Shoeless One." He grew up so poor in Brazil that he played in the street without footwear or even a ball—he used a sock filled with rags.

The solution is not to take away our children's shoes. But when kids play on streets rather than grass, the game is faster. Their reflexes get quicker. Same thing when they play with a bunch of different-sized balls or in a smaller space. And if somehow they do end up barefoot, they will immediately learn to kick properly—because if you strike a ball with your toes, you will howl in pain. But most importantly, without coaches yelling and a trophy on the line, kids are free to improvise, just like Pelé.

We've been getting this wrong from the beginning. America didn't used to be a soccer country. When we finally began to pay attention to the game, it was via TV, watching championships. "You see a giant green, grassy field, with referees and coaches and players on the bench—it looks like it is this elaborate thing," says Richardson. "But soccer is really the simplest game imaginable. The infrastructure should be incredibly minimalist."

We assumed our kids needed uniforms, cleats, shin guards, and of course a whole lot of adult involvement. Eventually that translated into an expensive proposition—youth sports are now a $15 billion industry—and one that eats up all a child's free time. "The amount of travel the kids do these days, to play in sports, it's insane," says Celli. "Kids are spending more time in the car than actually playing the game."

The pair's solution is as simple as it is radical: Give soccer back to the kids, at least through middle school, and let mixed ages play together.

Simple, right? But there's a problem. Send your kids out to kick around a ball old-school and they might not find anyone to play with, because everyone else is off at an adult-led practice. So the key is to get local Parks & Rec departments to offer a more shoeless version of the game. Dial back the trophies and travel. Send the parents off to get a coffee, or better still, have the kids arrive by bike.

And then let them play like Pelé.

Photo Credit: Nikada/iStock

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  • LeaveTrumpAloneLiberal-tarian||

    We Don't Need Soccer Moms—or Dads, or Coaches

    Truth! The only thing I need is more Jordan Peterson. Remember: Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient!)

  • Rock Lobster||

    Rule 11 / Don't Bother Children While They Are Skateboarding

    The left hates Jordan Peterson, because he is the academic version of the child in The Emporer's New Clothes, fearlessly pointing out the obvious to the willfully blind.

  • MarioLanza||

    Jordan Peterson is a wonderfully educated breath of fresh air.

    Hmmm, education....how did he get that? Give kids some books. Surround them with older kids and let them learn?

    Education, like soccer, requires discipline. Sentence diagramming, spelling tests, writing essays are the equivalent of dribbling practice, two one ones, running laps in soccer.

  • Rock Lobster||

    You seem to be commenting in the wrong thread. This article is about soccer, not systematic approaches to primary education.

    Play and formal education are completely different things, both of which are critical for proper development of children. The author thinks that most kids, the youngest ones especially, will get more benefit from soccer if it is left as unstructured as possible. I agree.

    Formal education is important for every child. Formal soccer? Not so much. The article wasn't about education; it was about allowing kids to play as kids.

  • Shirley Knott||

    Lets give childhood back to the kids.

    Only slightly snarky — what's the difference between kids sports coaches and child molesters?
    Both use the bodies of children for their own pleasure. They both claim 'the kids like it.'
    They both claim that if the kid doesn't like it, the problem is with the kid.
    But of course sports good, sex bad, so some uses of kids bodies for adult pleasure are fine, others are heinous.

    Leave the kids alone.

  • THCorCBDthatistheQuestion||

    I mean, I know this is a chasm, but damn. Comparing coaching your kid's soccer team to molestation?

    You sick bruh.

  • Shirley Knott||

    Do both use the bodies of children for the pleasure of adults?
    Do both claim the kids like it, or "it's good for them"?
    Do both place blame for unhappiness, attempted refusal of participation, or other suffering under the attention of adults, primarily or exclusively on the child?
    Do both claim children are able to offer suitable consent in these, and only these, areas? Or that consent doesn't matter because of some mystical 'greater good'?

    What material difference is there between them then, other than sports vs. sex?
    And social approval of the perpetrators vs social opprobrium?

    Show me a meaningful difference.
    Explain it to a rational space alien from a species with no sports tradition — what's the difference? Other than 'sex is icky but other forms of physical activity are cool.'

    I'm not saying there are none, but it's a very useful exercise to see how people confront this issue. So very very many of the justifications used to support coached childrens' sports are rejected when used by molesters. First up is "their parents approved and even arranged it."
    And the list goes on. I'm still waiting a killer refutation of the validity of the comparison, but I'm not holding my breath.

  • Benitacanova||

    Good one. I almost fell for it.

  • Vernon Depner||

    You could make a similar comparison to people who market harmful products to children, like unhealthy foods and high fashion clothing.

  • Shirley Knott||

    Indeed you could.
    And many do. "For the kids"
    I just find it curious that that conversation is never had about 'youth sports.'

  • Vernon Depner||

    Especially curious given the overlap that often occurs between the two subjects—youth sports are a common venue for adult-youth sex.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    We literally pay gym teachers to teach sex-ed. Yeah, maybe it is better to just eliminate youth sports leagues to avoid confusion.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Gym is a mandatory class in government schools. Americans have decided as a society that teaching sports is good for kids just like teaching them how to read, write, and do ... um, no wait. Right, teaching math became evil a few years ago because figures destroy a girl's figure or something like that. I can't keep up with the sexiest complaint of the day.

  • Longtobefree||

    Which is more healthy; an uneaten plate of broccoli, or an eaten sack of chicken nuggets?

  • Vernon Depner||

    For whom? A skinny child who hasn't eaten for three days, or one that weighs 300 pounds?

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Little Miss Sunshine made a similar point. Parents and organizations that pressure kids to fit a mold can be freaky.

    It's a question of how we pass on knowledge to the next generation. Every society has rules about what's good, what's bad, what might be good or bad, and how you figure out the questionable stuff. Every society has a different way to pass on these rules to the next generation from those that respect parental rights and privacy within the home to those that house all the kids on the kibutz in the same dorm away from their parents. When on a youth group tour of Israel, I visited a kibutz that had a dormitory for the teens instead of making them live with their parents and decided that I wanted that lifestyle. My first year of college was a dream come true.

  • Oli||

    Are both forcing the children to participate?

    No.

  • Shirley Knott||

    Wrong.
    Children can be, and are, forced into sports regardless of their desires.
    Once they begin to participate, getting out becomes harder and harder.
    It is not at all the case that force, outright coercion, is an inevitable and inherent part of child molestation. Children may be coaxed, even seduced, into "underage sex" without force as such.

  • grips||

    My god, you're an idiot.

  • grips||

    "Do both use the bodies of children for the pleasure of adults? "

    Nope.

  • King Lamoni||

    You want a difference between the two OTHER than the primary, defining difference?

    One activity is good and wholesome. The other is evil and abusive.
    I make my children do chores, eat their vegetables, go to church, go to school, do their homework. If they had their choice, they would refuse most of those things. You could say that I get pleasure out of seeing them do good and wholesome things.

    If you want to compare any of those activities to child molestation, you have to actually compare the act itself, not some strange circumstantial similarities of things external to the act in question.

  • King Lamoni||

    For example, if someone asked you:
    "What is the difference between driving your kids to school, and driving your kids to have their organs harvested on the black market... Other than the destination or the fact that one place is socially acceptable and the other illegal?"

    You would immediately see the absurdity of the question even if I listed 10 similarities of the act of driving the child to a destination they didn't want to go to.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    There's a slight difference. For starters, you don't get an STD or pregnancy from playing soccer. Furthermore, you can play soccer with dozens of different peers in a year without increasing your physical risks or eventual life as a married person. But yeah, the difference can be more a matter of degree than of kind. It's like that Strangers with Candy episode where her teacher tried to develop Candy's talent and warned her, "If you quit, you'll never fulfill the dreams I have for yourself."

  • Shirley Knott||

    So if STDs weren't a risk and 'playing' with dozens of peers in a year did not increase physical risks or eventual life as a married person child sex would be okay??
    You may not get pregnant or an STD from soccer or other sports, but you could be injured, be raped by a peer, and so on. Sports are not inherently safer than sex.

  • grips||

    "be raped by a peer"

    I'm sorry that you seem concerned about incredibly stupid thngs.

    "and so on. "

    Like a METEOR STRIKE!!!

    "Sports are not inherently safer than sex."

    You could be the stupidest poster to ever post anything in the history of posting. How socially stunted and moronic must you be to list "raped by a peer" as a risk of sports?

    I really do think that is the dumbest attempt to argue a point that I've ever seen, and you should be ostracized for thinking, and then actually posting, something so patently retarded.

  • vek||

    Ya know, some kids like playing sports... Like I did as a kid. If some kid hates it, their parents probably shouldn't force them to play... But if they like it, and you still think it's weird, maybe you're the weirdo?

  • Shirley Knott||

    I'm saying leave the kids alone.
    If they like to play sports, let them.
    If they don't, let them not.

    What I find weird is the fetishization of sports and adult dominance of the athletics portion of the child's world. It's creepy.
    Larry the Cable Guy joked he watched women's gymnastics in the Olympics —he hadn't previously realized he was a pedophile.

  • grips||

    It's only weird and creepy if you're a pedophile.

  • vek||

    As I said, I think if any parents are forcing their kids to play when they don't want to, that's dumb.

    Parents shouldn't do that. But I don't think that is SUPER common. Whoever does it should stop.

    As far as everybody else who DOES want to play, I don't see where there is anything wrong generally speaking with adults being involved. It's like complaining that adults are too involved in kids education, or in their learning to ride their bike, etc.

    Organized sports is a wholly different thing from playing baseball in the street with friends. Kids should be free to do both. But having organized sports doesn't take away from playing ball in the streets, it's just a separate and different thing to do. I did both as a kid.

    I liked organized sports because I was good, and my teams tended to do well. It was fun to win our county championship for soccer! We had an awesome pizza party, and got some sweet trophies! That's different than playing b-ball in a friends driveway. Both are cool in different ways.

  • Colossal Douchebag||

    Suggested title change: "It's Labor Day Weekend, and I Had to File Something Before Deadline"

  • Left ± Right > Hihn||

    This is in this month's issue, actually. I read it before it came up here.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I want to place this whole article under arrest for child endangerment.

  • Tony||

    Those kids have baseball bats! Shoot the kids!

  • sharmota4zeb||

    That's why I started the archery club when I was a teacher in Brooklyn. You never hear about a cop shooting inner city kids for carrying crossbows.

  • Tony||

    To be fair, that's probably because crossbows are thin on the ground.

  • obijuan||

    There's usually dog shit all over soccer fields. Shoeless soccer is not advisable.

  • Left ± Right > Hihn||

    Dog shit...soccer...what's the difference?

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Tape worm is the difference. You have to keep an eye on those teens with poor body images who will do anything to loose weight and look like the ideal presented by the modern media. That reminds me, if anyone sees Big Nick, tell him to text me.

  • cgr2727||

    We Don't Need Soccer Moms—or Dads, or Coaches

    Fixed that for you 'Merica.

  • Vernon Depner||

    There's two kinds of nations: the ones that love soccer, and the ones that put men on the moon.

  • Arcxjo||

    And Canada.

  • mtrueman||

    A lot of nations put men on Canada.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Some nations have rolling hills that jump like rams, but Canada has the rocky mountains. No wonder they don't buy enough American milk. They home grow plenty domestically.

  • uunderstand||

    I don't like home grown imported anything.

  • CE||

    There's two kinds of football too: college football and pro football

  • vek||

    I have always loved that joke Vernon.

  • Rockabilly||

    JESSICA Has The Coolest Soccer Mom's Car In The World.

    Most of the time when I ask a girl whose car this is, they say "It's my husband-boyfriend-brother-dad's car" It was different with Jessica Harris. I asked Jessica who the beautiful 1955 Chevy wagon belonged to. Jessica matter of factly said "It's my car".

    http://americancarsamericangir.....the-world/

  • mtrueman||

    I prefer that car from Two Lane Blacktop. Not the GTO but the 55 Chevy sedan.

  • Rockabilly||

    That's a nice one

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Stacy's mom is cooler. I met her in a pool on that trip to Israel.

  • CE||

    Stacy's mom has got it goin' on

  • Benitacanova||

    Soccer sucks.

  • mtrueman||

    I've always found the penalty kicks to resolve a tied game to be disappointing and anti-climactic.

  • Vernon Depner||

    The problem is that field goals are so few and far between in soccer that a sudden death overtime could take hours. Bad for television.

  • Robert||

    So leave it tied.

  • Vernon Depner||

    That screws up scheduling the post season.

  • Robert||

    Not unless few games are won or lost.

  • Eman||

    whats the f fference, really, between in season and post season games, aside from their relationship to soccer season?

  • Obafemi Martins||

    when I was a kid my parents ponied up about $15 - $20 for the season. we wore hand-me-down reversible jerseys and had coaches that were parents. we played local teams, and there were a lot of them. we also screwed around at the local park "trying shit." we also played basketball, baseball, and other sports. one of the guys I played with went on to play for the Sounders.

    when I talk to local soccer parents today about the financial and time obligations to have a kid play the beautiful game (home and away uniforms, bags, warm-ups, paid coaches, field fees, etc.), it makes me sad.

  • mtrueman||

    "we wore hand-me-down reversible jerseys "

    Children appreciate smart looking team uniforms. It's a worthwhile investment.

  • Vernon Depner||

    You know who else appreciated children in smart uniforms?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The Boy Scouts?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The Brownies?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Boko haram?

  • Woodchipper of the Apocalypse||

    If you think soccer is bad for this kinda stuff, don't look at youth ice hockey, because your head will explode. I play beer league with a lot of guys with kids who are in youth hockey, and they are trucking their kids to games and tournaments and tryouts and practices to rinks 4+ hours away, nearly every weekend in both winter and summer. What makes them even crazier is that we are in central PA and there are rinks everywhere. Then you add in the insane team fees and the cost of equipment, I'm not sure how they don't go broke.

    I've loved playing hockey since I was a kid, but if my dad had pulled this shit on me, I would have quit many years ago.

  • mtrueman||

    Isn't 'youth hockey' a winter sport? Swimming is a good summer activity, though I recommend some supervision so the children don't drown.

  • Tony||

    It seemed like my cousins were in swimming lessons for the better part of a decade. My parents threw us in and told us to figure it out. Seemed pretty natural to us, though keeping pool water out of our cocktails was the real challenge.

  • Agammamon||

    No Tony, the burlap sack with rocks in it is not a normal part of teaching kids to swim.

  • Tony||

    Next I suppose you're going to say that you can't learn to drive from inside the trunk.

  • grips||

    Why does it always come down to things "in your trunk" with you...

  • Woodchipper of the Apocalypse||

    It goes year-round in these parts

  • An Innocent Man||

    There are two Central PAs. There's the real Central PA, like State College, which is actually in the central of PA. And then there's the Harrisburg/Hershey area, where everyone says they are from/in central PA, but isn't, like, central of anything.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    If you can't commute from there to Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, it's Central PA.

  • Woodchipper of the Apocalypse||

    There are two Central PAs. There's the real Central PA, like State College, which is actually in the central of PA. And then there's the Harrisburg/Hershey area, where everyone says they are from/in central PA, but isn't, like, central of anything.

    That's funny. I'm from Lancaster and everyone says "Central PA" and I never gave it much thought until your comment. We definitely are not central.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    I've loved playing hockey since I was a kid, but if my dad had pulled this shit on me, I would have quit many years ago.

    That's why we have Ritalin. It keeps a kid focused on the important things in life. /sarc

  • mtrueman||

    "The problem isn't that they were coaching improperly. It's that they were coaching, period."

    There is nothing wrong with coaching, teaching or guiding young ones. The problem is the eroding trust between parents and their neighbours. That's the root, I think, to almost every article Skenazy contributes to Reason, though she never identifies it, instead routinely blaming government over-reach (really.)

    The idea of children playing together without adult supervision is not new. I grew up playing hockey on a frozen pond nearby with minimal equipment, even using a piece of frozen cow dung as a puck. My parents knew and trusted our neighbours and let the children play by themselves for hours on end. Had they been as frightened and suspicious of the neighbourhood as is the norm today, my hockey career would have never begun.

  • Trainer||

    It depends on how young. I never got to play in Little League but I could out play the boys when it came to baseball when I was in elementary and middle school even though the boys all played in leagues. It seems like high school was when the coaching really seemed to make a difference and the boys moved ahead (beyond the differences caused by gender). It seems the earlier years were spent learning about how to use their body and control the bat and ball on a broader level. Once the boys got to a certain point of expertise with that, that's when coaching became effective.

  • Kivlor||

    The problem is the eroding trust between parents and their neighbours.

    Yeah, Skenazy, or Reason at large are not going to touch this subject. It would lead to some conclusions that they won't like.

  • An Innocent Man||

    The time and travel commitments for AAU year round girls' basketball in these parts, even in 8th grade, is such that, when these kids graduate college someday and get a career, they'll feel like they're working part time.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Nice idea, except that there is no country in the soccer world in which superstars routinely emerge from slum streets having played with socks wrapped in rags for a ball. Not even in Brazil. Strong youth players are identified early and recruited (in Latin America and Europe) to the developmental youth clubs for the senior teams. They start playing international tournaments at the U16 level (perhaps earlier) and win their way to the U18, U20 and then the senior clubs. It takes a lot of time and (hate to say it) a lot of coaching.

    There are really two problems. One, the coaches have a poor understanding of how to coach. In my "career" as a youth soccer coach I learned to emphasize positive reinforcement for the behaviors, not criticism of the player. And second, the parents who generally fall into one of two categories: (1) those who "farm out" their kids to the coaches expecting us to assume a secondary parenting role, and (2) the rabid "supporters" who scream at referees, their kids, players on the other teams, etc. I had to make a dad leave a game once because his sideline behavior was so intolerable his own child was starting to cry.

    I'm sure that there are soccer coaches who abuse their positions, just as there are in all other sports. But none of the coaches I have met and worked with fall into that category. We are volunteers, our children and grandchildren are players, we do it for love of the game.

  • vek||

    Seriously. There's nothing wrong with having a mentor to teach you stuff... Which is what a good coach is.

  • Longtobefree||

    What needs to be removed is all the lawyers making people think they need all of that structure 'in case we get sued'.

  • Vernon Depner||

    It will take a lot of courage to change that. The first to stand up against it will be casualties. The lawyers and insurance companies will put up a savage fight to keep their power and money.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Did you try poking a drug den and ducking? That can distract the lawyers long enough for a pickup game of soccer.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    This is hardly news. In 1957 Robert Paul Smith's "WHERE DID YOU GO?" "OUT" "WHAT DID YOU DO?" "NOTHING" tried to hammer this simple thought into the heads of the Little League parents....admittedly about baseball rather than soccer.

    The idea that children need constant supervision is nonsense.

  • CLM1227||

    Dr's office:
    "Do you supervise your child when playing outside in your yard?"

    Hell no! When do you think I clean my house?
    "Of couse I do."

  • Robert||

    This may apply to soccer because it's so simple. However, I'm confident the children I coach in American football would play much worse, and more dangerously, w/o coaching.

  • CE||

    What separates homo sapiens from the rest of the animal kingdom is our ability to throw objects overhand.
    It's a sure sign that God meant us to play baseball, not soccer.

  • ||

    Robert, I believe that many parents would conclude from your comment that it would be better for their child to play soccer.

    Exceedingly few children suffer serious injuries from playing soccer while serious injuries, even at the high school or youth level, from playing both American and Canadian football are well documented.

  • Robert||

    That's true, but children still want to play American football & will do so w or w/o adult supervision. it's just that w adult supervision they're safer. Same w swimming.

  • JFree||

    Children want to play American football because they see adults play it. The notion that 'adult supervision' makes it safer is belied by the little reality that CTE/dementia/disability is going to become much more known now as silent/boomer men now are reaching dying age (hence brain autopsy age) - who grew up playing football when it started becoming really popular - with the rule/game changes in the 50's/60's/70's and the increasing size of players in response in the 70's/80's. eg GB Packers offensive line weighed 245 lb average in 1967 - 313 lb in 2010.

    Right now, that attention is mostly focused on NFL/college players - but it will expand to highschool players as well. And my guess is - it won't be a pretty picture. Age/sex adjusted dementia is highest in the South and Rust Belt which is exactly where youth football took off then.

    It's gonna change the popularity of the NFL/NCAA game. Ultimately the HS game too. And unless the game changes rules more in line with say rugby tackling and smaller mobile trenches, it's gonna disappear at the youth level. Adult supervision (and emulation of the pro game or their own playing memories) are part of the problem not the solution.

  • Bob Meyer||

    I grew up in NYC in the 50's and 60's. We played softball in schoolyards, baseball in Central Park and stickball in the streets. I never had a coach until I played baseball in college. My parents never saw a single game I ever played and the same was true for most of my teammates.

    When I was 17 I was playing in the equivalent of Legion baseball. In the top of the 9th inning I hit a two out pinch hit triple and drove in the winning runs in what had been a scoreless game. I felt great until I saw the opposing pitcher get dressed down by his father for giving me a pitch I could hit. That adult was making the poor kid feel even worse than he did which I thought really sucked because he was first pitcher to hold our team scoreless for 8 innings. He had pitched one hell of a ballgame giving up only two hits.

    He'd have been a whole lot happier if his father never came to a game.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    End federal student loans, social security and medicare. When this happens, adults will have to save as much a bunch more money for retirement. kids will have to work to get money for college.

    Kids will have to come up with creative ways to entertain themselves rather than having everything handed to them alomg with a $100 bill.

  • CE||

    A lot of parents spend tens of thousands of dollars on youth sports, hoping their kids can earn a college scholarship.
    Seems like saving the money for college tuition would be a lot easier.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Colleges waste millions on sports programs that nobody wants to watch or pay for merchandise, like womens anything. Its great young people want to get exercise and participate in sports, but just have the kids or parents pay for it.

    Instant tuition savings for colleges.

    Fucking Title IX and its sports inclusiveness chapters.

  • MikeP2||

    As a parent of three soccer players, i find this article sadly ignorant of both the sport and children.

    Pele was great because he lived in deep poverty, trapped within a society with little hope of escape. So what do kids do in this? Work and play when they can, because there is nothing else. This is why so many sport greats come out of poor childhoods. A great motivation to excel. But this ignores the huge number who dont.

    My kids enjoy all the benefits of a wealthy society, from books to boardgames, from xbox to movies. They free play with friends...but it is so cer, basketball, football, army, hide and seek, etc etc. to be better at soccer...their sport of choice? That requires organized practice and games. Otherwise they would just dabble at every sport.

    My eldest had to stop free play soccer with friends at age 10. He was too good and no one wanted to play with him, the difference between trained and untrained.

    Oh...and the european soccer countries all have highly organized soccer programs. So the whole premise is wrond.

  • vek||

    Can't say I agree with what I got out of this article.

    If you're trying to say that there's a little too much helicopter coaching/parenting going on, I can buy that. I haven't done any organized youth sports stuff since I was a kid in the 90s more or less. So that may be possible.

    But the notion that having a coach is useless or a bad idea is retarded. My grandpa was a coach, mostly football and baseball. I played baseball, basketball, and my favorite soccer. My coaches taught me good stuff. My grandpa and older cousin lernt me a lot more! Without that guidance I wouldn't have been anywhere near as good a player. My grandpa and cousin were probably one of the reasons I was always the best, or one of the best, players on my teams every single year.

    As for trophies and such... You know who doesn't like trophies? LOSERS. Snowflakes who can't handle losing. My teams outright won in our little local leagues a few times, and usually came close. When we weren't #1 I didn't cry like a girl, but I sure was proud when we did win 1st place at the end of the season.

    Playing just to fuck around is cool, and fun, but so is playing in an organized way. It's a male competition thing. Winners like it, some losers can't hang. But that doesn't mean you abolish winning because somebody has to lose. Getting rid of winning is just retarded leftist clap trap to protect the feelings of weaklings and losers, and as such I cannot abide.

  • Flinch||

    The pride of winning doesn't need a trophy, but games do need winners. Trophies are more for the parents on balance, to stroke their egos. Every new game starts as a fresh sheet of paper where anything can happen, and the last win doesn't score one point.

  • vek||

    Games need winners, for sure. BUT I did like my trophies too! The parents may be happy when their kids get trophies too, but I know my team sure as hell was stoked about it too, even as little kids. Everybody likes winning, including little kids.

    The anti trophy, or trophy for all, thing is just female nature run amok. Men like winners and losers, hierarchy, etc. Those are typical masculine traits. Women feel sorry for people who get their feelings hurt, which losing does hurt.

    It's just one small piece of the feminization of our whole society really. ONLY womens point of view is important/moral/righteous, and the way the OTHER HALF of the population thinks is evil/wrong/hurtful/etc.

  • Trainer||

    Wait a minute! We're supposed to make the game less structured but then we're supposed to give it the government parks and rec department to make that happen. And I though I was reading a libertarian magazine.

    How about parents calling up other parents and saying their kids are going to have a soccer in the backyard and to sen their kids over if they want to play? Or kids calling each other? No need to involve the government.

  • Flinch||

    Where I live now, the city built a soccer complex about 20 years ago - it goes unused 98% of the year. If anyone tries to play a pickup game, they get chased off because it wasn't "reserved" and the fields go silent once more. The city might build fields, but full micromanagement control is actually killing the game here and the investment is not being utilized for the most part. So... it's just devolved into a contract for turf care, and a shining example of idiocracy. They should have never cleared the land.

  • Flinch||

    Interesting, in that the article dovetails with failures obtained from great athletes in the olympics [but that's another story about over coaching]. The needs in soccer are far simpler than say, ice skating: they get their feedback from the ball and the teams, and strategy could just be handled by a player/captain. By comparison, all the baseball I played as a kid was self determined: we chose up sides and played with or without an adult in earshot. It worked out fine - no coaches or parents distracting from the game, and we found the pure enjoyment of sport. RIP Danny.

  • AlmightyJB||

    In the world we live in today, these are distinctions without a difference. Cut spending. Also, taxation is theft.

  • JFree||

    better still, have the kids arrive by bike.

    This honestly is the key part of the article.

    When kids roam free, they will find their own ways to play.

    But it's pretty obvious that the adults in this country aren't gonna let that happen. Roads are for cars - cars are for adults - and FYTW.

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