Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
A meaningful version of 'Soccer Dad'
July 12th, 2007 9:30PM
Subscribe to Youth Soccer Insider

TAGS:  youth boys


By Jim Paglia

Dear Soccer Dad:

As a past PTA president, I learned that "Dear Parent" sometimes is code for "Mom." This article is for any parent, but fathers most of all.

Thirty-five percent of all children born in Illinois have no father listed on their birth certificate. Forty percent of the children in Illinois are in a home without an adult male presence. ABC News polled prison inmates showing that race, gender, education and poverty were not common denominators among criminals, but 85 percent of the inmates claim father absence. The statistics in most states are not much better, and some are worse.

Father absence may be the single greatest factor in the decline of American society. There are two kinds of absentee fathers in soccer: The ones who do not attend, and those who come in person, but not in spirit.

Some dads do immeasurable harm by not being in their children's lives. Others do equal harm by being involved the wrong way. Our children do not need us to be their trainer, motivator, agent-in-waiting, or play-by-play announcer during games.

As fathers, we can be a collective force for change at our children's games, and openly choose to set a better example. We can apply peer pressure, and insist there is no place in the game for parents living over-vicariously. We can be examples of men our children and the father-absent kids deserve.

If your child were exposed to an unsafe, harmful environment would you make your presence known, assert your fatherly authority, and protect your children as only fathers can? It is time we choose to do it in soccer.

The expression "Soccer Mom" has become a cliché. Sadly, some moms can be obnoxious spectators, too. Often, they learn that behavior observing men. Imagine the good that would come from being a highly visible and meaningful version of "Soccer Dad?" As the past president of the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative, I know there is no greater force in a child's life than a father.

Last year, I saw a father berate his 13-year-old son with comments like, "I didn't drive all this way to watch some freaking ballerina. Get your butt involved in the game!" His son's actions reflected the pain and humiliation of each screaming insult. His body literally jerked with each hurtful word. A second father joined the chorus and directed criticism toward his own son and the team in general. The entire team was playing with fear and embarrassment.

I spoke directly to the two dads in a calm, quiet manner and said I did not want my son exposed to that kind of verbal abuse. If they persisted, we would leave for the balance of the tournament. I moved my seat away from these two dads. After the game, I wrote an "open letter" to the coach, director of coaching and the parents asking for better touchline conduct.

Four things resulted:

1. The director of coaching supported my position in a letter to the parents.

2. The two fathers declared they were attending future games in silent protest.

3. At the next game, I sat apart from the other parents. Within minutes, all but the two dads moved their seats around me.

4. My son told me how proud he was of me.

Let's act like the men and fathers we are, setting the example our child and other father-absent children need. Our children should see men acting respectfully toward other people including coaches, officials, opponents and other parents. They need to see us responding to both victory and defeat with dignity and composure as responsible fathers.

Jim Paglia is a nationally recognized brand strategist who lives outside Chicago. He has an extensive background in soccer ranging from the NASL, to NCAA Division I, to World Cup 1994, and 30 years of club administration and coaching.

No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now



Recent Youth Soccer Insider
North Korea claims U-17 Women's World Cup title    
North Korea beat defending champion Japan, 5-4, in a penalty kick shootout in the final to ...
Should you play sports when you're sick?    
We're getting in to that time of year when people start sneezing and coughing all around ...
DiCicco and Dorrance react to USA's U-17 World Cup exit     
On Friday, Japan faces North Korea in the final of the 2016 U-17 Women's World Cup, ...
Watch out corporate America, Here come the Refs!     
A few very advanced refs can earn enough money from refereeing to make it their vocation. ...
Mallory Pugh leads USA's U-20 Women's World Cup squad    
Mallory Pugh, the 18-year-old Colorado product who has already made 17 appearances, with four goals and ...
World Cup ends early for U.S. U-17 girls    
The USA exited in the first round at the 2016 U-17 Women's World Cup with a ...
MLS newcomer already has two teens on the roster    
Atlanta United begins MLS play in 2017, but it made a bit of history by becoming ...
Please, Don't scream at the children    
Within the last few weeks, while coaching and refereeing, I observed a couple of very different ...
Under pressure: U.S. U-17 girls in danger of World Cup elimination     
One reason U.S. Soccer invests so heavily in its youth national team program is to give ...
USA starts U-17 Women's World Cup with a rout     
The USA's quest to win the U-17 Women's World Cup for the first time began with ...
>> Youth Soccer Insider Archives