Every year, my family’s school does a fund raiser involving the parents playing in a soccer tourney. There is a co-ed requirement, it is played on miniature fields, and the length of the games are abbreviated compared to normal soccer game. This year, I played in the tourney for my older daughter’s classroom. I have learned over the years that it must be established early and often that this is a fund raiser. The money we all paid is what it is all about – not the winning or losing. The problem with this is the fact there is a trophy involved. And, each year, if you are a woman, you have to fight to play. While you are required to be on the field, it doesn’t mean you get to actually play.
This year was no exception for my older daughter’s class team. I need to admit that this team is better than some of the teams I have played for in the past. But, it is also not the best team I have played on from this perspective. Midway through the second game, one of the players on our team caught the “competition bug” and it started going down hill from there.
For me, I have no patience for it. I have a reasonable amount of athletic ability, have played soccer on co-ed teams where the women were valued, and I can be very competitive when I chose to be. This last point is the most important point for me. My dad and grandpa used to remind all of us that if you aren’t having fun playing any sport, than you shouldn’t be playing. Games are something you do for entertainment and enjoyment – if that is lost, it’s time to walk away. It always helped keep perspective on the situation. You get paid to work; you don’t pay to play something that isn’t fun to do in your free time.
As a result of this upbringing, I am really good at gauging how the team is performing and adjusting expectations accordingly. If the team is a bunch of “green” players, you cannot go out expecting to win. You can hope to win, but you have to look for little wins. Was the passing better as the game went on? Did the communication get better? Were there some nice attempts at plays? It’s kind of a whole crawl, walk, run thing — the team has to crawl first.
It just takes one good player on the team and a person who realizes it to send things south. We didn’t have really any subs on our team. One of the players recruited their son to play with us. He was very good….which lead to our demise. There was yelling at him for not “trying harder” and an expecation that he is to get the ball to score the goals. Yep….team was totally thrown out the window.
And, the teams that won the tourney? They didn’t have these issues. They were clearly equals on the field. They were all playing soccer. And, they were competitive but having fun. No hard feelings on that field.
I vowed several years ago that I would no longer play co-ed softball. It made me crazy for these same reasons. I can’t do it. I enjoy the sport too much to let some egotistical men who couldn’t play if their lives depending on it, ruin it for me by telling me what to do (wrong things, I might add). Then these same men would pout in the dugout if the team wasn’t winning and yell at those who weren’t doing well while at the same time not play well themselves. Anyway, I hit a point where I had to say enough.
I could let it be – not react and not let it bother me. But, I have a horrible time letting it happen to others who aren’t as easy to tell the person to jump off the cliff and who internalizes it. I don’t want to see the bully win – so I step in and say something (usually in a not so nice way and sometimes with profanity – I can’t always help it; its my temper – and profanity sometimes gets a knuckle head’s attention better than a 2×4). Anyway, I haven’t hit that yet with soccer. I am just overall disappointed, more than anything. Why, as adults, do we slip backwards? I mean, in middle school or high school, the girls didn’t always care in PE if they got to play. There were boys to flirt with and messed up hair to avoid. But, even in high school when it came to athletics, girls showed they can be just as tough (and tougher in some cases), and they can be just as competitive. Why do the men still resort to the 8th grade ways even with the women have not?
Like I say in the title of this post, co-ed sports makes me crazy. I don’t get the male behavior and the tolerance for it even by men who aren’t acting like that.
On a totally unrelated note, I was very happy to see that the PTA and school foundation were selling aluminum water bottles at the event. Now, if they would just forgo providing the individual waters and instead supply cold water, I think it would be better. But, they did collect the plastic for recycling – and they did make a positive step forward. For that, I have to applaud.