Monday, March 16, 2009

Generational Differences

This past weekend was the second weekend of the spring soccer season. It started raining on Friday night, and it stopped raining.....well, I should say it's supposed to stop raining sometime this afternoon. The team which I coach (and on which my 10 year old daughter, Thing 1, plays) was due to travel to a neighboring town in the next county to play a team from another club. That club canceled all of their games due to weather (it was 46 deg F and raining).

When I was a kid, I played two sports, fall soccer and spring baseball. Baseball constantly had games canceled, as it simply can't be played safely in the rain, and with spring rains, we lost a few games per season (sometimes make up games had to be made up...fortunately, the league scheduler had a PhD in Astrophysics and could mathematically figure out how to do all of this. I know this because it was my dad). Soccer, on the other hand, was NEVER canceled, unless there was lightning in the area. Even in the 70's, we knew to leave the field when there was lightning. But, rain or snow, or heat, we played.

The cancellations this weekend caused some of the parents to be thankful, as they don't want our precious little snowflakes getting pneumonia. I, on the other hand, was thinking, "I played in this as a kid and I never got pneumonia. It builds character."

I often see this viral email going around about how we didn't have bike helmets, and we played soccer in the rain, and we never wore seatbelts, and we turned out OK. But, that email wasn't written by the thousands of kids who needed bike helmets, or were thrown from a vehicle, or got a lung infection from playing sports in the rain. It was written by the survivors. So, were we tougher, or were we lucky? I've had 2 or 3 bike accidents where I was a few millimeters from getting a serious head injury. One of my older brothers was hit by a car while riding a moped to school, and wasn't wearing a helmet. He landed on tall, soft grass after it had recently rained, so he walked away from the accident. Another brother was playing soccer in a torrential downpour, wiped out in the wet field and landed on his shoulder, dislocating it. Between my three brothers and I, all of us have ended up in the ER due to at least one sports-related incident (mine was from baseball, I was the catcher and a kid slid into brothers had soccer, skiing, and karate incidents).

I begin each soccer season reminding the parents that we do not play baseball, we play a real sport and we play in the rain, unless there's lightning. Am I a good coach? Or am I an asshole? Our club will cancel games, but only when the rain is so much that playing/practicing will do irreparable damage to the field. But on Saturday, most of our club's home games were played (we canceled the afternoon games at one field which drains poorly). I felt that was the right thing. Other parents thought it was crazy.

Are we overprotective? Or are we all simply remembering how lucky we were when we were kids, a few millimeters away from a trip to the ER?


  1. Of course the parents thought it was crazy. In the immortal words of Danny Glover on Lethal Weapon, "We're too old for this shit!"

    But you're entirely correct. There's no reason to stop playing just for a bit of rain, and I do think we are entirely too overprotective. The only danger I see is more chance of slipping and falling and breaking ankles, feet, etc - but I don't know if that's a real or imagined problem.

  2. Well, as I said, my brother did dislocate a shoulder playing in the rain.

    I would never have my players play in weather that I myself was not willing to stand out in, but then again there's a HUGE difference between me, the guy willing to coach girls ages 8-10, and the parent who sits on the sidelines and watches.

  3. This is further evidence supporting the "pussification" of America.'s cold and rainy, wah!

    The only time we didn't play soccer when it rained was because it would tear up the field. Screw the kids, but we gotta take care of the grass.

    I remember wearing gloves during the playoffs one year...and I was a stopper...not a a goalie. And yes they were shiny with sequence just like Michael's.

  4. When we played rugger at school on days when there was a chance of lightning we were forced to carry long metal rods while on the pitch. We were British. We had to show insane stupidity and disregard for human life.

    All right, to be serious, you summed it up very well. In those days we regarded it as being ‘better’ to take greater risks with life and limb than are taken now. We selectively forget the injuries or even deaths that occurred as a result of sloppier safety rules. There’s no way of saying whether a greater regard for safety is good or bad – it’s a matter of opinion.

    In this particular case I’d say that as long as the kids and their parents are made fully aware of the risks, and they all agree, it’s okay. I’m not sure what your legal position would be in the event of a serious injury and a litigious parent though.

  5. When we were growing up it was a different world, as Simon just mentioned, if little Johnny of our time fell over and hurt himself, mum and dad wouldn't have dreamed of running off to the lawyer and suing everyone remotely connect to the game he was playing.
    By the same token, kids have to be more protected today because of the world we live in, they have not had the chance to develop the survivor instinct that we took for granted as kids.
    In the end kids got hurt then, they get hurt now, that is part of the whole kid thing. No matter how hard any parent tries to protect them.

  6. Kona, I often wonder....are the parents more concerned with their Precious Little Snowflakes getting hurt on the field? Or are the parents themselves pussies for not wanting to sit on the sidelines in cold/wet weather, something their parents did without a second thought?

    Of my kids, a couple fall into the first category, a couple are in the second, and the rest are all "fuck it, I played in the rain, so can Jill."

  7. way overprotective. pussification of america is great! ha!

    for instance - this weekend at the clinic. there is a 24 hour virus going around town that involves nausea vomiting diarrhea. it's over in 24 -48 hours. growing up, we were never taken to the dr for such things unless it had gone on for over 3 days or involved especially high fevers uncontrolled by tylenol.

    now these stupid ass people (adults and parents alike) come in to the clinic after vomiting once. omg i vomited!!! people are becoming such pussies.. they don't want to suffer at all. my mom, a nurse, threw us on the couch with ginger ale, crackers and a blanket and that was it. WE GOT OVER IT. or if it drug on longer than a regular virus, we went in.

    these pussies can't handle vomiting once.. and drag themselves or their kids in for IV fluids and anti-nausea meds. grow a pair, lay on the couch and suck it up like we did. geez..

  8. I only ever once went to the doctor as a kid for nausea, I had been throwing up for 2 days. Same deal for me, ginger ale, crackers and an old ratty electric blanket.

  9. I think it comes down to parents not wanting their kids to do things they themselves aren't willing to do. Parents are pussies, so instead of letting their kids learn how to play sports in adverse conditions, they keep them at home, where the parents themselves want to be. Parents can't stand the site of vomit, so they get the anti-nausea stuff for the kids.

  10. Steve, I think it is more about the kids getting fucked up than the parents being lazy. It is much easier to stand in the rain and let the kid be entertained (gore tex, yo!) than actually entertain them while at home, inside because it is raining.

    Snow. Nurses are evil bitches that want nothing more than for everyone to suffer. I should know: my mother AND my wife are nurses. Hence, I am a giant pussy.

  11. I think that it is all a stunt pulled by the anti-Darwin lobby. They are trying to disprove his theory by promoting the survival of the unfittest.

    Over here, we actually have school zones where you are supposed to slow down so that the kid, when struck by the car only ends up a vegetable, rather than dead. In my world - I would increase the speed limits near schools and let the weak perish. Why educate someone not smart enough to get out of the way of a car!

  12. Yeah I'd call that selective pressure Lerm. Several thousand pounds of pressure.

    In NZ, cancelling sport due to rain would involve no sport being played ever. Every international cricket match played this year in NZ has been rain-affected (either abandoned or shortened) - if anything it's even more sensitive to rain than baseball since the pitch is vulnerable to moisture.

    I like to think the next generation - kids being born now - will be the first wave of the backlash, the parents who are reacting against the pussification and will let their kids eat peanut butter sandwiches, play football in the rain and jump their BMX bikes over the storm water drain. TO be honest, if they don't, they're going to be ridiculously risk-averse and are probably going to get the snot beaten out of them by someone a bit less scared of reality.

  13. Damn those parents for taking away one of the great pleasures in life. I do my walks in pouring rain all the time. Utterly fantastic! ('cept maybe the squelchy sneakers)

  14. gd i love you, lermontov!!