It's that time of year again, sadly: 'tis the season for travel soccer team tryouts. Today is Thing One's second day of tryouts, and Thing Two has his next week.
Honestly, the kids aren't the issue. There are a few odd birds and jerks, but the vast majority are very nice boys. The issue is the parents. Even the ones I ordinarily like are mostly insane during tryout season...you'd really think that these boys were going to live or die by which team they make for next year.
At Thing One's level, there are three teams: A, B and C in order of performance. He's been one of the top B players this past year. Unlike previous years, there is actually likely to be some significant rearranging of the teams post-tryouts this year, since the A and possibly also the B team may be picking up some extra players. Accordingly, the backbiting and drama and gossip on the sidelines have been intense. At Monday's tryout, I made a point of hiding off at one corner of the field with another like-minded mother because I couldn't take it anymore. Bear in mind that
a) We are talking about kids who are 10 or at most, 11
b) Most of them won't make the local high school's team, let alone college or the pros, and
c) College soccer scholarships are some of the hardest to obtain
and the whole thing just seems silly and a bit pathetic.
Especially since many of the dads (and it's usually the dads) are living out their own childhoods and/or failed dreams through their sons. The pressure on some of these poor kids is just ridiculous. May I reiterate that they are only ten or eleven years old??? Some of these dads just seem to have a grip on reality that is tenuous at best...their expectations are so out of line that their boys are being set up to fail, and it just isn't fair. It's actually hard to watch. And all the extracurricular competition: which boys did this clinic, which boys did that clinic, which mom found out about a good camp and deliberately didn't tell which other moms about it because she wanted her son to have an edge (I wish I was making this up)...nuts, I tell you. Just nuts.
I know I've posted before about the difference in crazy-parent levels between the A and B teams and why I've been VERY happy that Thing One has played B for three years. This is the first year that he's had a real, serious shot at A, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. Neither is he, actually...he legitimately can't decide which team he wants to make. I told him to go out there, do his best and have some fun and let the chips fall where they may, since we don't particularly want him to play soccer in college anyway (at least not at a competitive level.)
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