The culture that is Arlington youth soccer

The Arlington Soccer Association is asking parents to pipe down this weekend, scheduling a day of “silent soccer” for its recreational league.

Managers of the 6,000-member league are encouraging parents and other spectators to refrain from cheering and offer their support silently on Saturday (May 12) for teams with players ranging from second grade through high school.

Dan Ferguson, ASA’s recreational soccer director, says fans of kids in kindergarten and first grade will still be able to cheer as loud as they’d like this weekend. But, for the rest of the league’s teams, he’s hoping to give players a bit of a break from the constant feedback they receive from the sidelines.

“It’s a reminder to adults that kids don’t need constant instruction to be able to play the game,” Ferguson told ARLnow. “Sometimes parents feel like their kids are lost when we do this, but we try to tell them: ‘That’s okay.’ We’re not really here for the wins and losses.”

Ferguson says ASA has been holding “silent soccer” days on Mother’s Day weekend for at least the last six or seven years, and he’s consistently gotten positive feedback from coaches and parents about the event. In fact, he says some coaches continue to ask spectators to keep quiet even after the weekend is over.

“The overwhelming reaction is the kids seem to enjoy it,” Ferguson said. “They can actually hear each other talk on the field, communicating with their teammates and giving them instructions.”

Here is the full article, and for the pointer I thank Bruce Arthur.  Via Steve Rossi, here is a related and more general post.

Comments

My parents had a policy against attending any of my sporting events, even though I played a block away from home from age 8 to 14. I just walked to the park, played, and walked home. It seemed like a pretty good system.

At some point, it became socially mandatory for parents to attend their kids' games. I recall that as a lesson in Spielberg's c. 1990 movie "Hook."

"It seemed like a pretty good system." Agreed - I can't remember any parents attending my rugby (or cricket) matches for my school. We normally were watched by a reporter for the local rag, an old man and his dog, some urchins, and perhaps a few of our female schoolmates. And that was how we liked it.

We played on Saturdays for heaven's sake: parents ought to have been golfing, fishing, sailing, hill-walking, gardening, or whatever.

Rugby is a great game. Two sons played in university. One played on the All-Army Team. I loved to attend their games. I never attended the post-game festivities.

Not just attend, but organize, help coach, and micromanage every last detail.

The level of involvement in kids' lives expected of American parents these days really irks me.

Cruel and unusual punishment.

I don't see this culture of intense vicarious competitiveness in other patof the world, I wonder why? Is it related to the overall competitive nature of US? I often think the culture in the US is more status conscious, perhaps the parents are worrying that their kids are lowering their status when they perform badly.

I don't think it's the overall competitive nature in the US. If so, parents would do the same thing with video games.

Life's so good here, parents have nothing better to do.

"That’s okay.’ We’re not really here for the wins and losses." - then why even play in teams? Just practice and dribble the ball, etc.

Kids are so sissified in the USA. In the Philippines they are more tough.

I think it's pretty much standard nowadays to not keep score in the lower age group leagues. I don't know whether the kids themselves still keep score mentally themselves. They may not learn until they're older that they should expect to be protected from the trauma of potentially losing.

"I don't know whether the kids themselves still keep score mentally themselves. "
They do. And so do the spectators.

And thus, by officially de-emphasizing scoring, and refusing to obsess about it as a coach, the score settle back into being just one dimension of the game among many, rather than the sole goal, sole reason, sole metric, and sole determinant of of whether to drive home elated or miserable.

I coach U10 baseball, and I can assure you, the score doesn't mean squat, except whose pitcher threw the most wild pitches. U10 baseball is 90% walks and steals, and half overthrows.

It tells us nothing about who overcame their fear of batting, who caught their first fly ball, who ran their butt off and beat out a play. Those things which become the aggregate determinant of success later are right now isolated moments of accomplishment and joy.

Sure, we keep score, and we celebrate our wins. But its not what we talk about. Whenever a kid asks me the score I say I don't know, focus on the field, and often I don't actually know. I would rather watch them fight back from being down, or simply watch them play together as a team, or rejoice because of a single great hit, than win just because the other nine year old pitcher had a control problem - and thus we scored all our runs on walks and passed balls. I would rather watch the entire line-up strike out swinging at hitable pitches, than play the odds and hope for a walk.

Why do the kids play video games? For the wins and losses?

Okay, I get it, everyone's an expert, and not just in economics. Mea culpa. Today will be my silent soccer day at MR. I promise. As for youth sports, I coached youth baseball, and well-meaning parents made my job almost impossible. Sure, the outrageous behavior of parents during the games was embarrassing, but the expert advice parents provided their children was counter-productive, at best. Watching a dad teach his son how to hit a baseball was like reading some of the commenters views about economics (mine included). Some dads would buy pitching machines, which cost thousands, and accomplished little besides a boy swatting the bat at a moving target. When I would teach the boys by making them hit the ball off a tee, they thought it was childish. When I informed them that Albert Pujols hones his swing by hitting hundreds of baseballs each day off a tee, they wouldn't believe me, certain as they were that dad knows best. At least on this, my silent soccer day, I won't be swatting aimlessly at economics.

Tyler says the league is "encouraging parents and other spectators to refrain from cheering and offer their support silently."
The actual article says, "fans of kids in kindergarten and first grade will still be able to cheer as loud as they’d like this weekend."
I know exactly what this is about. This is about the obnoxious parents who offer non-stop commentary and coaching through the entire game. I've wanted to shut up those people myself for years.

So that is how things are: true football fans must gagged so that the sport become as aseptic and esterile as the rest of America's culture...

We learned a good lesson early on when a bunch of soccer parents screeched at a kid to do something... that was illegal.

Parent training around here works very hard to ask parent to cheer only. Leave coaching to the coach. And leave the volunteer/low paid umps/refs alone ffs

Most parents have no idea that their kids deeply dislike getting shouted instructions nonstop

Little league dads and stage moms have long been problems in youth activities. In the old days, we tried to discuss these issues directly with the parents but, of course, some parents remained imperfect. Silent soccer is a better solution for today's sensibilities. We need to acculturate children early to societal norms where authorities protect children from imperfect parenting. Otherwise, when these children grow up, they may not realize how wonderful the British government was in "protecting" Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans from their unenlightened parents.

Nonsense, there is nothing useful about infecting every waking moment with incoherent screeching from uniformed parents. There's plenty of time left for bad parenting at home.

You can be as obnoxious as you want at your own home.

When I was a kid, we were taught to tune out crowd noise as part of the game. Silent soccer is more appropriate for today's world. This will prepare children for a future in which they can expect to be protected from all unpleasant speech.

Imagine going out on your first job, and your parents showed up and screeched at you from the hall the entire day, telling you what to do next.

And the instructions they were shouting were mostly wrong.

Obviously people disagree about when is the right age to teach kids that its a cruel unforgiving world and they can only rely on themselves to claw their way up the ladder.

But is there universal agreement that kids should, up to some point, be protected in a bubble of fun and discovery, that they should have moments when they aren't scrutinized and nagged and lectured, that not everything needs to be a hard lesson to help them face the cold world?

We have replaced most of kids' unstructured time with school and formal sports and formal enrichment. So, one front in this struggle is youth sports, wherein parents project their fears and frustrations on eight year olds, and have created an up-or-out system that spits out failed-out (cut by coach), burnt-out (over-stressed), and injured kids by age 12.

But do kids want to be in the bubble? When I was a kid, we would invent our own games, and we always kept score. I think children, or at least the boys, are naturally attracted to cut-throat competition.

Yes, compete on their own terms in informal play. Watch them do it though, and you often will see them argue about rules and infractions more than they actually play the game. They are by themselves working out how to be grown ups.

One problem is we have replaced much of informal play with formal mediated play. The challenge now is to keep the joy in it. Keep the kids as the center of it.

Like I said above, the score should be part of the puzzle, not the whole and sole thing. When I refer to a bubble, I don't mean a bubble from keeping score as much as I mean a bubble from parents imposing their own baggage.

Um, this isn't about Arlington, silent play has been a national observance for over ten years. Here is the NY Times from 2004:

"SILENT SATURDAY first gained national attention five years ago. The administrators of a girls soccer league in suburban Cleveland, fed up with increasingly engaged parents, issued a one-day ban on all coaching, including that from parents. For scheduling purposes, the day was labeled Silent Sunday."

https://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/05/travel/no-yelling-no-cheering-shhhhh-its-silent-saturday.html

Yep, this is an ancient thing--and the instructions they email to parents sometimes include "you can yell anything you want except verbs," which my whole family found hilarious

Ten years is "ancient"? The generation of people that can't seem to distinguish between non-physical speech and physical violence includes 20-somethings. That means we should be suspicious of any changes to child rearing that happened sometime after the early 90s or so.

In contrast, we now know with the benefit of hindsight that parenting in the 80s produced adults that turned out to be just fine. We kept score in the 80s.

"Ancient" is hyperbole but it was around in 2004 and probably earlier: https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&geo=US&q=silent%20soccer

I coach youth basketball and they did the same "silent" weekend earlier in the year. It felt weird. The kids like the positive cheering and reinforcement - especially from the coaches as it gives them confidence - but I agree that the occasional instructional stuff from parents is unnecessary. And another thing, very few parents show up to our games. There's usually 20-30 parents/grandparents for the other team vs. 3 or 4 parents on our side. We live in a very affluent suburb in the bay area. I think the richer the neighborhood, the fewer the yelling and screaming - and less fans. When we play teams from "poorer" or more "blue collar" areas, the fans tend to be higher in number and louder - they don't have as much going on in their lives I guess.

When you play really affluent towns, it's often mostly nannies on the sideline.

Reminds me of the time the coach put my too young daughter in as soccer goalie. She knowing zero, no coaching, no instruction, and me not much more. I forget exactly, either I was thrown out or the game called off. I was behind the goal shouting at least some meager instruction to her. I had to yell over so much noise.

One of two times in my life that I could have murdered someone.

And no. Neither I or my daughter would ever care long term on something like a soccer game. Aside from building up useful life experience/grit.

There's a difference between cheering from the sidelines in an overall sense, and cheering for your kid no matter what they do. There's another difference in shouting instructions at your own kid.

Cheering in an overall sense can actually provide feedback to young kid players in what type of play or efforts are valued by adults; it may not only be a goal, but a valiant effort to save a ball from going out of bounds, etc.

Shouting instructions at your own kid from the sidelines is likely highly stressful for those kids, but if this is the motivation for Arlington soccers silent day, is it to send a message to the few parents who do this, or is it a sizeable proportion who actually do this?

I have 2 kids who play youth sports several days a week, so I am constantly at soccer fields and hockey arenas (not in the U.S. however). It is rare that I see a parent shout from the sidelines at their kids, but there is the occasional parent who does so, who I would say are very selected. Is this more commonplace in the U.S.?

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