Jackson Fury Sideline Rules of Conduct
For many of life's endeavors there are unwritten, but fiercely enforced, codes of conduct which must be followed if law and order is to prevail. Soccer is not exempt
from such codes and for the benefit of those parents and players new to the world of competitive soccer.....
- Rule #1: Thou Shalt Not Praise Thy Own Child
It is late in the second half of a vital game and the score is tied against our arch-villain enemy. Your daughter performs a full speed sliding tackle to strip the
ball from an attacker who eluded the keeper 3 feet in front of the goal. She does a pop-up slide and comes to her feet without ever losing the ball. Juking and faking,
she takes a run up the touchline, leaving opponents sprawling in her wake and then, sensing that the whistle is about to blow, hits an off-foot shot from 35 yards that
starts out 20 yards wide and hooks back just into the upper V to win the game. Your reaction? A pleased smile. A little leap no more than 4 inches off the ground. No
cries of "Where is Anson Dorrance when we really need him?" No matter your intent, shoveling plaudits on your own kid is seen as basically self-promotion,
selfish, and destructive of team unity. Other parents will mutter darkly and cast jealous glances at you.
- Rule #2: Thou Shalt Praise Other Parents' Players
The reason that you don't have to praise your own son is that it is the sworn duty of the other parents to do it for you. In situation #1 they will give you high-fives,
hug you, and generally declare that the spirit of Pele (or Mia Hamm) is being channeled by your child. When someone else's little son does anything ranging from mediocre to
spectacular you will run up to them with similar comments, assuring them that international stardom is only a short time away, and that this is proof that the gene pool runs
true. When another boy does something appallingly awful you are duty-bound to rush to the grieving parent to assure them that it wasn't that bad, and that he's been having such
a good game, he can be forgiven for one little goof.
- Rule #3: Thou Shalt Never Criticize Players in Public
The coach has done it again. Starting at striker is a girl who is slower than America OnLine (all parents should be old enough to remember those days!), completely clueless about
the tactical niceties of her position, and to whom "airhead" would have to be considered a compliment. You see the opposing team laughing and pointing. You groan in what
you think is a quiet voice "How can he even keep that dolt on the team". Your feet leave the ground as you discover that the hulking behemoth behind you is her Uncle
whom you had never met. You can generally take as a given that the players are trying as hard as they can with differing amounts of skill. Desirable as a "skillectomy" might
be, the ability to trap a line drive and drop it on the shooting foot cannot be grafted on or surgically attached. Secondly, players are quite aware when they have made a bonehead
play. You will rarely hear a player shout "Thanks guys, I didn't realize that whiffing was a bad thing!" Thirdly, even at the U-18 level these are still our kids - not
professionals - and even the pros make mistakes. The pros are paid to be able to take criticism as aimed at their play rather than themselves as persons. Your child is not.
- Rule #4: When Commenting about the Field Action, Silence is Golden
At times you may feel like commenting upon the quality of play, the quality of officiating, and the coaches' decisions. Due to your years of observing from the sidelines and the
fact that you coached the "Sunflowers" in the NJSL, you may have the belief that your opinions are (1) accurate, (2) incisive; and (3) worthy of communicating loudly so
everyone else can hear them. You are WRONG! Neither the players, the referees, nor the coach are going to make any changes in response to your bellows from the sideline. They are,
however, going to be mad at you - joining a group including your spouse, your friends, and anyone standing close to you. Kids goof, refs goof, coaches goof. Before you shout, picture
your next day at work as you are working on a project and in the doorway to your office are a crowd of players, coaches and refs booing you and demanding that you be fired.
- Rule #5: Silence Can Be Deadly
The usual response to your sideline comments is a tug on your shirt from your spouse, a glare, rolling of eyes by your neighbors, and a silent promise by your son to change
his name and become an orphan. However, there are those times when your comments result in a sudden pall of silence and your becoming the center of attention from the sidelines
and the field. Sort of like in 4th grade when you fell asleep in class and made a funny sound when you startled awake. This means you have "Crossed The Line" from being
an obnoxious parent/fan to another status entirely - such as the "Unknown Brother" at a U-16 Regionals game making anatomically uncomfortable suggestions about where
a referee's unblown whistle should reside. When silence falls and you are the focus of everyone's attention it may be time to announce that you are overdue at the hospital to
perform a lifesaving operation and to slink away at top speed.
- Rule #6: This Is Still a Game
Despite the fact that each player's family has invested a great deal of time and money in soccer, and they are hoping that soccer will help pay the college bills, it is still
a game and if your daughter doesn't enjoy it she will not play well - and maybe not at all. Ask yourself if what you do at games and practices and tournaments helps your daughter
have fun and enjoy the game or adds pressure and worry. Ask yourself after the game if watching two teams of beautiful, talented, fit, and eager young ladies was fun for you? If
it wasn't - if you found yourself criticizing, carping, upset, and unhappy - remember that there is enough pressure and stress involved with making a living and guiding your
family through the challenges of modern life. Forget the calls, forget the score, forget the standings. Give your son or daughter a hug, tell them you love them, and be thankful for every
day you have to share with them because they don't stay kids very long.
If you made it this far in this article, I hope that you enjoyed it and will abide by this motivation to enjoy the game, give your child a hug, and allow the Coach's and Referee's
to do their job. If not, please be forewarned that Jackson Fury Soccer Club has a ZERO-TOLERANCE policy and Parents and their Players will be subject to disciplinary actions
including suspension from club activities and membership termination.
Tom Strock, President
Jackson Fury Soccer Club
CREDIT: This has been adapted from an FC Royals newsletter article authored by Jim Cathcart, FC Royals.