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Modern Dad

Modern Dad: Some people should spend more time alone

Will Ferrell coaching youth soccer in a peculiar way during the movie “Kicking and Screaming”

By Jon Show. My kids are entering the ages where sports become more prevalent in their lives. Future Man plays lacrosse, soccer and basketball. The Blonde Bomber, after trying nearly every sport known to woman, chose soccer.

I don’t care what sports they play, I just want them to play sports. The Shows, I tell them, are athletes and not athletic supporters. This is not an indictment of kids who don’t play sports. I just want my kids to play sports.

Why? I guess there are life lessons like teamwork and healthy living and all that but it’s mostly because I like watching sports and I don’t like watching the theater or live music or dance or videogames like Fortcraft. Minenite? Whatever it’s called.

The first time Future Man played in a soccer game he was four years old. Taking the cues from other parents, I yelled encouraging things and tried to tell him where he needed to go. Ten minutes into the game he walked over to me and said, “Dad, stop telling me what to do? You’re not my coach.”

So I stopped yelling at games and practices.

We’re a little more than five years removed from that moment and I could sit and watch my kids play sports for hours in a state of bliss if it wasn’t for the gaggle of goons enveloping most of the games I go to. Coaches, parents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters – a menagerie of morons who have somehow accepted emotional ownership of a game in which they weren’t issued a uniform.

Maybe you don’t have kids or maybe it’s been a long time since you were at a kid’s game, so here are some recent examples of things I’ve witnessed.

In a nine-year-old’s basketball game a parent, after screaming at the refs the entire game, went up the scorer’s table after the buzzer and pulled up the rule book on his phone to explain to the ref that he wasn’t calling the game correctly.

In a five-year-old’s soccer game I watched a father scream at his son to kick a boy in the leg because the same boy accidentally kicked his kid in the leg trying to get the ball.

In an eight-year-old’s football game I watched a parent mock an opposing injured player for being carried off the field by a coach.

Two years ago, when the Blonde Bomber tried T-ball, most of the parents grew tired of telling their kids where to go so they stood behind them on the field and physically moved them around the diamond.

Parents have gotten so bad that a local soccer club doesn’t allow them to watch practice on the field – they have to stay in their cars or watch from the parking lot.

The parents who volunteer as coaches are often just as bad.

Every winter, usually about midway through the season, our town’s parks and recreation department has to send out a cautionary reminder to coaches to not act like the children they’re supposed to be coaching.

This soccer season, some low-life coach walked up to me after a seven-year-old girls soccer game and questioned the age of one of my players because she’s tall. I pointed at her giant Lithuanian of a dad but that didn’t seem to satisfy him. He felt she should be playing with older kids instead of her friends.

It’s not just the complaining and misbehavior of coaches. It seems that what passes for “good coaching” these days is screaming and telling every kid exactly what they’re supposed to do at any given moment. I call them joystickers.


I infinitely hope that one day a kid will turn to his or her joysticker coach and say, “Hey coach, if you want to manually control every player on the field why don’t you go home and play Xbox? I think society would be better off if you spent more time by yourself in a dark room.”

Even though I mostly choose to stay silent at practices and games I’m not passing judgment on anyone who opens his or her mouth at a youth sports game. There’s a line. A very obvious line. Like if people refuse to sit within 20 yards of you then you’ve most definitely crossed the line.

It’s funny to think back on that first soccer game with Future Man, when I stood on the sidelines and thought I needed to yell because the other parents were screaming. A few weeks ago I asked him if he thought I should be more vocal during games.

“No, it’s not your game,” he said.

Yup, think I’ll keep quiet.


Jon Show lives in Robbins Park with his wife, who he calls “The Mother of Dragons.” Their 10-year-old son is “Future Man” and their 7-year-old daughter is “The Blonde Bomber.” Their dog is actually named Lightning.