Recently my son’s footy team made it to the semifinals. Yeah, good job boys! We had an awesome season and deserved to be there. We were super proud of our boys who had worked really hard to make it this far. But when we discovered the team we would be playing, we were horrified. We had played them in the last week of the rounds and we were totally appalled at what our kids had to endure during that game. In fact, so was the league which made the decision to move the game to a different ground to the rest of the finals being played, so that there could be more officials present to oversee it. Why? Because the team we were playing were a bunch of thugs. I have never witnessed such atrocious behaviour from not only the kids, but from the parents.
This team had a reputation, and many reports have gone to the league requesting that they be removed from the competition. But they are still there. They win, not so much based on skill but on scare tactics. They intimidate the opposition and threaten them. Our kids were punched, off the ball, and crunched when they were on the ground. When the game finished, our dads stormed the ground to surround our players because they are known to king hit their opposition after the game! Crazy! At first we thought the kids were just nuts, but sadly, I kind of felt sorry for them because it’s the parents and the coaches who promote this behaviour. During the game, one of our players kicked a goal, the runner for the other team ran out and ripped through his own player, swearing at him because he allowed the goal to be kicked! Really? Who knows what these kids would have to endure if they lose!
At the semifinal, the parents were out in force. They were screaming “hit them, whack them, take them down, hit them hard!” What! We couldn’t believe what we were hearing. Even the mums were saying this! What kind of a mother, or any father for that matter, wants to see another child hurt? The language was unbelievable, and just plain disgraceful. How can we expect these kids to grow up with any sort of moral value system? How can they feel empathy and compassion for anyone when this is the example? We talk about kids who are bullies and how we can help them change their behaviour, but maybe sometimes the problem lies with the people raising them. If we want to raise kids with the correct moral fibre, we need to firstly address the adults. It’s not always the fault of the child.
We went on to lose the semifinal, there was a weird, eerie feeling in the air that day. A strange quiet engulfed the ground. Was it fueled by fear, or by the anticipation of what could happen? Who knows. Their plan worked, our kids were intimidated, they held back and were cautious. Who wouldn’t be when one team is out to win based on their own set of rules. Even the umpires seemed intimidated, so many obvious calls were just not made. Human nature I suppose, maybe they were scared too!
Isn’t it time for parents to re-evaluate their behaviour and realise, that just because they didn’t make it as elite sportspeople, living their dreams through their kids is just not the answer? Isn’t it time to let kids be kids, play their sport and reap the rewards that come with doing their best, respecting the unwritten rules of sportsmanship, selflessly being happy when others succeed and simply having respect for others as fellow human beings? Isn’t playing sport and life in general, all about getting out there and giving it a go, never giving up, playing fair and giving it your all? That’s what the crowd comes to see, that’s what we as parents want to see. Our kids should be living, loving and enjoying life and their achievements. To me, that’s what it’s all about win, lose or draw.