Satire — what closes on Saturday night, and what is not recommended in a youth soccer coach
Like a lot of coaches, I send a hello email to all my players’ parents as a way to introduce myself, talk a little about my background, give a few thoughts on how I approach coaching, and try to be light-hearted and even a little humorous, all to send the signal that I’m a nice, approachable guy who will not drive their kid straight out of the sport and onto a therapist’s couch.
I would recommend all coaches do the same. However, I would recommend none have an email that reads like this (hat tip, On the Pitch, which got it from Barstool Sports, a Boston-based site that has a reader with a girl on the team in question):
Congratulations on being selected for Team 7 (forest green shirts) of the Scituate Soccer Club! My name is Michael and I have been fortunate enough to be selected to coach what I know will be a wonderful group of young ladies. Chris Mac will also be coaching and I expect the ever popular Terry to return to the sidelines. Our first game will be Saturday April 4 at 10:00AM. There will be a half hour of skills followed by a 1 hour game, so total time will be 1.5 hours. All games will be played on the fields in the front of the High School. Each player will be required to wear shin guards and cleats are recommended but not required. A ball will be provided to each player at the first meeting, and each player should bring the ball to games and practices. There is no set practice time allotted for the U8 teams, but I will convene with the coaches to determine the best time and place. If there are cancellations due to rain, all notices will be posted via the Scituate Soccer Club website, no calls will be made (though I will try to send an email). Attached is the Schedule and Code of Conduct. After listening to the head of the referees drone on for about 30 minutes on the dangers of jewelry (time which I will never get back), no player will be allowed to play with pierced ears, hairclips, etc. We used to tape the earings, but that practice is no longer acceptable. Please let me know if your child has any health issues that I need to be aware of. My home phone is XXX XXX XXXX, my cell number is XXX XXX XXXX, and I check my email frequently. According to my wife, my emails get too wordy, so for those of you read too slowly, are easily offended, or are too busy, you can stop here. For the others……
OK, here’s the real deal: Team 7 will be called Green Death. We will only acknowledge “Team 7″ for scheduling and disciplinary purposes. Green Death has had a long and colorful history, and I fully expect every player and parent to be on board with the team. This is not a team, but a family (some say cult), that you belong to forever. We play fair at all times, but we play tough and physical soccer. We have some returning players who know the deal; for the others, I only expect 110% at every game and practice. We do not cater to superstars, but prefer the gritty determination of journeymen who bring their lunch pail to work every week, chase every ball and dig in corners like a Michael Vick pit bull. Unless there is an issue concerning the health of my players or inside info on the opposition, you probably don’t need to talk to me. Coach MacDonald has been designated “good guy” this year.
Some say soccer at this age is about fun and I completely agree. However, I believe winning is fun and losing is for losers. Ergo, we will strive for the “W” in each game. While we may not win every game (excuse me, I just got a little nauseated) I expect us to fight for every loose ball and play every shift as if it were the finals of the World Cup. While I spent a good Saturday morning listening to the legal liability BS, which included a 30 minute dissertation on how we need to baby the kids and especially the refs, I was disgusted. The kids will run, they will fall, get bumps, bruises and even bleed a little. Big deal, it’s good for them (but I do hope the other team is the one bleeding). If the refs can’t handle a little criticism, then they should turn in their whistle. The sooner they figure out how to make a decision and live with the consequences the better. My heckling of the refs is actually helping them develop as people. The political correctness police are not welcome on my sidelines. America’s youth is becoming fat, lazy and non-competitive because competition is viewed as “bad”. I argue that competition is good and is important to the evolution of our species and our survival in what has become an increasingly competitive global economy and dangerous world. Second place trophies are nothing to be proud of as they serve only as a reminder that you missed your goal; their only useful purpose is as an inspiration to do that next set of reps. Do you go to a job interview and not care about winning? Don’t animals eat what they kill (and yes, someone actually kills the meat we eat too – it isn’t grown in plastic wrap)? And speaking of meat, I expect that the ladies be put on a diet of fish, undercooked red meat and lots of veggies. No junk food. Protein shakes are encouraged, and while blood doping and HGH use is frowned upon, there is no testing policy. And at the risk of stating the obvious, blue slushies are for winners.
These are my views and not necessarily the views of the league (but they should be). I recognize that my school of thought may be an ideological shift from conventional norms. But it is imperative that we all fight the good fight, get involved now and resist the urge to become sweat-xedo-wearing yuppies who sit on the sidelines in their LL Bean chairs sipping mocha-latte-half-caf-chinos while discussing reality TV and home decorating with other feeble-minded folks. I want to hear cheering, I want to hear encouragement, I want to get the team pumped up at each and every game and know they are playing for something.
Lastly, we are all cognizant of the soft bigotry that expects women and especially little girls, to be dainty and submissive; I wholeheartedly reject such drivel. My overarching goal is develop ladies who are confident and fearless, who will stand up for their beliefs and challenge the status quo. Girls who will kick ass and take names on the field, off the field and throughout their lives. I want these girls to be winners in the game of life. Who’s with me?
Go Green Death!
Who’s with him? Not the Scituate Soccer Club in Massachusetts, which was unhappy enough with the coach who wrote this note, one Michael Kinahan, that he quit. Did I mention Kinahan’s team was to consist of 6- and 7-year-old girls?
Kinahan told the Boston Herald his letter was supposed to be a “mix of ‘suburban satire’ and a challenge to compete. ‘I stand by my comments. This isn’t two hours of free babysitting,’ Kinahan said.”
Not a gift from Michael Kinahan.
Apparently Kinahan was not familiar with the words of George S. Kaufman. Or perhaps nobody got as a satire because, according to a league official quoted by the Herald, Kinahan in the past really has heckled the refs. Did I mention they are 12 years old, and that a league official said Kinahan heckled one right out of the league?
In a way, I feel bad for Kinahan. I believe he was trying to be funny, though I also believe that if this letter is any example, he sucks at it. Anyway, it isn’t a good idea to alienate your team and its parents before any of them have met you. There’s plenty of time in the season for that! Unfortunately, thanks to this magic thing called the Internet, a stupid letter goes from being just a stupid letter into the latest cause celebre over whether we take youth sports too seriously.
However, I feel much better for the girls and parents who don’t have to deal with this hopeless douchebag. Apparently not realizing the dad who reads Barstool Sports is the one who shined a light on his sub-Wildean satiric skills, Kinahan included him a copy of his resignation letter, which the site dutifully reproduced. You could say Kinahan hasn’t learned anything, or you could say Kinahan is going to be the subject of a fawning interview on Fox News very, very soon.
Team, After careful consideration, I have decided to resign from all coaching responsibilities related to Team 7 this season. Unfortunately, it has come to my attention that some parents and the Board of Scituate Soccer failed to see the humor in my pre-season email. For the avoidance of doubt, the email was largely (albeit not completely) meant in jest and with the goal of giving the parents a chuckle while enduring yet another round of organized youth sports. It was also meant as a satire of those who take youth sports too seriously for the wrong reasons. My overarching goal is the well-being of my players, and I do not want any player to feel uncomfortable, nor do I want to see the team disbanded because of a lack of active players. Therefore, while I’d prefer to go down swinging, it’s really about the kids and it just makes more sense for me to take the year off.
While I respectfully disagree with the Board’s interpretation of my comments, I believe that they should be commended for their immediate actions to address the concerns of the offended parties. The Board’s action proves that the chain of command is functioning as designed. Board members volunteer their valuable time and I do not plan to add to their already significant workload. I also respect those parents who were offended as I am sure they acted in the best interest of their children. While I may question their sense of humor, I have no right to question their judgment regarding their children. Perhaps we may even have beer (I’ll buy) and a couple of laughs at the end of all of this.
And while I am sorry some people failed to see the humor, I do not apologize for my actions; I wrote it, I think it’s funny and I do have a distaste for the tediousness of overbearing political correctness. Furthermore, I was serious about parental involvement as I do believe parents should cheer and encourage players (in a positive fashion obviously) so that the kids feel the excitement that comes from team competition. And most importantly, I was completely serious that I want to see each young girl develop a positive self image, self-confidence and the will to succeed in any endeavor that she desires. Lastly, I have added some comments to my initial email (in capitals) to clarify several points that may have been viewed as offensive.
Go Green Death!
How long before Kinahan sues Barstool Sports for trying to make a buck off of his idiocy?