Today I am biting my lip and restraining my email fingers (but thank goodness I have this blog on which to vent). My son is learning to play lacrosse goalie and he’s doing okay. Of course, I really can’t say I see the point of having a goalie in that game sometimes, the way players just sprint up to two feet in front of the goal and whip it in the net. But I’ll save that for another post.
What is burning me up right now is what my son told me his teammate (and good friend, I might add) said to him during the game today. I saw this teammate talking with my son a couple of times after he was scored upon. So I asked him what this friend was saying, figuring maybe they were talking defense or discussing how to stop those guys from shooting. No, it turns out this teammate was being oh-so-helpful by saying things like, “That was an easy shot, you should have stopped it.”
Seriously, there is little in this world that irks me more than this kind of crap. I can’t stand it when I mess up a pass in my soccer game and a teammate yells at me for it – thanks, but I am well aware that I screwed up and I don’t need you to point it out. And while we’re at it, when you play a perfect game without any flubs or missteps, we can discuss whether or not you have the right to call me or any of the rest of us out.
Ok, so maybe that has happened to me once or twice in my life. Deep breath…
Back to my son’s game – am I wrong or is it totally inappropriate for this 10-year old to say things like that to a teammate? I don’t know or care if my son did make a bad save attempt or not. In my mind, the proper response is one of the following:
B. Sorry, that was my man
C. Next time
D. say nothing at all
I am now trying very hard not to step in and say something to the coach and this kid’s parents, whom I happen to know pretty well. I have talked to my son about how this is not acceptable and am coaching him on how to respond the next time (because I am sure there will be a next time). I have given him permission to look this kid straight in the eye and say “Shut up!” If he were older, I’d encourage him to add a choice word or two in between the “shut” and the “up” but, for now, I am keeping it clean. And if his buddy persists, I told him he should hand his goalie stick over him and say “go ahead and show me how it’s done.”
I have always believed that participating in sports is a great way to learn life lessons. The lesson here, I suppose, is that we really should all be trying to support each other, not criticize and bring each other down. No one is perfect, no one does everything right every time, no one makes all the saves. And there are coaches and teachers and bosses and parents to let us know when we do make a mistake and how we can fix it. Colleagues, classmates, and teammates, who are all in this together, should work to build each other up and be a stronger unit. Not drag each other down.
Another deep breath. I will let my son fight this battle. And his dad and I will be sure he knows we always have his back.
But man, just let me hear something like that…. all bets are off then.
I was a field hockey (2 yrs) and lacrosse goalie (7 yrs) in middle/high school and college. My HS lacrosse coach, a women’s national team member, was extremely supportive. She knew how hard being a goalie is and how we beat ourselves up for every goal scored. She always said “We all try our hardest. We all make mistakes. The fact that someone even got down there to try to score means that the rest of the team made mistakes.” Still classmates would comment. Miss Boss left me to handle them – after all, making a comment like that is a mistake and we all make them occasionally. But one girl was relentless and unresponsive even to other teammates telling her to knock it off. My mom, a teacher, approached Miss Boss. Coach put her in the goal one practice where she and the team fired a relentless succession of varying shots, many ‘easy’ ones. The girl was close to tears by the end – bruised (women did not pad arms or hands then) and rattled. That girl and the kid who made a comment are both insecure about their own skills. You are doing the right thing by teaching your son how to handle the nasty comments (which will sometimes come from the other team or even spectators). If this particular kid keeps it up, I think a word to the Coach would be appropriate. As an athlete, you can help your son deal but the Coach would be missing an opportunity to help another kid who has poor sportsmanship and needs him/her to coach this aspect of the game. I would approach this as “This has been going on a while; we are teaching our son how to respond but I thought you should know since this is probably an issue [other kid]’s having with other teammates.”
Thanks! I agree that it is a learning opportunity for that child and the whole team. I am not even all that upset that it was said to MY kid, but that it was said at all.