“That was sooooo great Tyler! Not just anyone can trip over a soccer ball twice.”
“Yes Becky! Give the ball to the other team. We want to play defense all day!”
OVERLAND PARK, KAN. (SatireWire.com) — Yes, “Sarcastic Sidelines” is back – the annual youth soccer weekend where the incessant gripes, jeers, and screams of parents make way for ironic applause, back-handed compliments, and absolutely insincere encouragement.
Instituted by the National Youth Soccer Association, Sarcastic Sidelines requires spectators to “refrain from making any comments to players, coaches or referees that are not sarcastic or sardonic in nature.” It is meant to reduce parent coaching and criticism – for one weekend at least – and appears to have strong support, particularly among young referees, who are ofte n the victims of parental abuse.
“On any other weekend, I never, ever hear a parent say ‘Good call ref,’” said Neville Fillion, a 15-year-old referee from Oneonta, N.Y. “But on Sarcastic Sidelines weekend, I must hear it a hundred times. It’s great. Seriously. Just sooo friggin’ great. I love parents.”
The program is the successor to the failed “Silent Sidelines” weekend, which had similar goals but proved unworkable.
“We used to do Silent Sidelines, where parents can only applaud politely and can’t say anything,” said NYSA President Hunter Hobbs. “Total nightmare. Each year about 3,000 parents had strokes.”
Wendy Pottenger, president of the Branford, Ohio, Youth Soccer Club, said everyone gains from Sarcastic Sidelines. “We want players to make decisions on the field without their parents trying to correct them from the sideline,” said Pottenger. “Sad to say, but parents are often too critical and too intense, which really detracts from the games.
“Of course that doesn’t happen with our parents,” Pottenger added. “They’re the greatest parents ever.”
GOOD NO-CALL REF! MY KID DESERVED TO BE ELBOWED IN THE HEAD!
The weekend is a boost for players’ self-esteem as they hear things that, if nothing else, sound encouraging, she said. “Usually they’re being yelled at for mistakes. But here it sounds like they’re being praised for them. And to be honest, young kids can’t usually tell the difference.”
Kimmy Keckler, a 10-year-old goalkeeper in San Jacinto, Cal., agreed. “Yeah, when I let a shot go through my hands and the parents say, like, ‘Nice catch,” I totally can’t tell they’re being sarcastic,” she said. “I guess it’s because I’m just soooo stupid, right?”
Other youth players have similar tales of satisfaction.
“My dad only comes to my games sometimes,” said 9-year-old Ralph Marchetti from Overland Park, Kan. “Mostly he yells at me to be tough. But today he hasn’t. He’s just been yelling, ‘That’s my girl!’ God I love my dad sooo much. I wish he’d come to every game.”
“Sarcastic Sidelines is awesome,” added 11-year-old Dunwoody, Ga., player Melissa Blount. “It’s so cool to swing and miss the ball and have your mom shout, ‘Olé!’ each and every time it happens, over and over and over. Honestly, I am just, like, totally happy right now. I’m not going to cry myself to sleep tonight for sure.”
The feeling even lasts after the matches are finished. In Overland Park, parent Richard Jenas approached the coach of his son’s team, which had just lost lost 8-0.
“Good game, coach,” Jenas said. “Really good game. You’re the best.”
“Thanks… Dick,” the coach responded. “That means a lot coming from you. Dick.”
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