Playing alone

December 19, 2011

This post looks at the positives and negatives of sport and its affect on behaviour The dark side of sport.

I used to play foots three times in a weekend when i was young; and my memory of these times is mostly negative. Freezing my ass off in a field with either nothing to do or with useless defenders projecting their own inadequacies onto me, their keeper. A manager of a team i played for (aged 11)  lined us all up at the end of the season and handed out ‘redundancies’ to those that didn’t, in his opinion, measure up. This was a man that wore a bomber jacket with a panther on the back. Before each game he would say ‘Now..play like the…’ before spinning round. Who ever heard of playing football like a panther? ‘Eat the left back Jonny!’ What a dick.

I also didn’t really like playing in nets. My managers were mostly (there was an honorable exception in one bloke who seemed to do it for good reasons) 40 year old ultra competitive types who would think nothing of balling 13 year olds out for a stray pass. And as the last man you were the centre for most of the vitriol, never mind what your team mates’ performance had been like in the event of a goal. Goalie; goal; wrong goalie; shout at goalie.

That’s partly why i liked golf (however, the thought now of my 15 year old self in a Pringle jumper is deeply disturbing. Like a bear in suspenders). You turned up and if you played well all was good; if you played badly it didn’t really matter. The lack of group dynamics was refreshing.

This is not a plea for better treatment of teenage keepers (BTTK). And there is a place for supportive, intelligent and honest criticism in anything. But the type of balling out, who shouts the loudest sportsman is a danger to be watched. And as most of us don’t play professional sport it is often at work that this behaviour becomes most dangerous. My point is that if we taught kids how to play and behave better in teams we would surely create better human beings in later life. Unfortunately, the type of people who get involved in sport as kid’s managers are not often the most rounded of individuals.

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