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Sunday, October 6, 2002

Today I got a glimpse of the other side of youth sports. If you see enough games, you get the whole spectrum of humanity, the good and the not-so-good. It doesn't seem to affect the kids much, when adults act like idiots, but you have to wonder what lessons they learn.

At these tournaments, each team is guaranteed three games, two on Saturday and one on Sunday. The teams that win the most get a fourth game, and somebody gets a trophy. Our kids (that's how I think of them, though none are actually mine) already knew they weren't going to play a fourth game, so this morning's game was their last of the tournament.

It would have been the last, that is, if they'd had a chance to play it. That chance was taken away when the opposing coach decided not to show up. It would have been their last game, too, but they gave no warning, no phone call. We won by forfeit.

David was livid and left a message on the other coach's answering machine. His players got up early to play, their parents got up early to watch. Then they get to the field and find out there's no game. He told the other coach that it was disrespectful to everyone involved. It was also against the rules they agreed to when they signed up for the tournament. And it's a terrible lesson, to tell kids that because they can't win they shouldn't bother to show up.

He eventually got a call back from this rat coach, but there was no apology. Our kids were disappointed (most of them; some were happy just to get a win), but I think his players were cheated even more.

Since there are soccer-age cousins all over the place, somebody's almost always playing somewhere. After the boys' game was canceled, we went to the girls' game at another park. Soccer is such a democratic sport that almost anyone can play, regardless of size or even ability. Girls like it as much as boys (at least the girls I know do).

The girls game was fun, although our girls (our girls!) were lucky nobody cared what the score was, because the other team kept scoring goals after the game was well in hand. I believe they have meetings about that kind of thing, too, and it resulted in a hand-waving confrontation between the coaches at the middle of the field after the game was over.

Fortunately, the girls were concentrating on their juice boxes and orange wedges and not paying attention to the coaches. The best part of youth soccer is that the kids can have fun just by ignoring the belligerent adults.

All the coaches are volunteers, so it's hard to fault their intentions, but something happens to some of them when they find themselves in charge. I'm proud to say no one in my family takes things remotely that seriously. What we do is take umbrage when others abuse their power or try to take advantage of us. Umbrage, I tell you.

Anyway, the girls lost, 7-0, but at least they got to play.



Up early again today, I was wiped out by the time the game ended, and it was only eleven o'clock in the morning. I drove home and collapsed on the couch. After sleeping the afternoon away, I was ready for some baseball. My Giants were up against elimination, but they stayed alive by pummeling the Braves. The two teams play again tomorrow to decide which of them keeps going toward the World Series and which slips into wait-till-next-year mode.

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