The Soccer Mom Culture: Turkey Tournaments

Jane played in a soccer tournament these last two days. For those of you unfamiliar with tournament play, in most children’s sports the most talented kids play post season games in and around their regions. There’s usually an A (All star) team, a B team (almost all stars), and a C team or two (kids with some potential and/or involved parents). Tournaments last one or two days, and the teams will play two to three games a day. The games are usually a few hours apart.

Families really need to devote a day to their child’s sport in order for them to participate in tournament play.

The tournament that Jane played in this weekend gave her three games on Friday (8am, 11am and 2pm), and two on Saturday (9am and 1pm). That’s a lot of soccer for Jane. Interestingly it’s even more soccer for Alexander, who is supposed to sit on the sidelines and cheer for his sister.

I love soccer. I grew up in AYSO, and I’ve watched it morph from something a few kids played in the beach cities, to an incredibly popular pastime with a level of parental involvement that I didn’t know existed.

Sometimes I worry that I’m not pushing Jane enough. She’s very fast, typically she’s the fastest kid on the field by many strides, but she isn’t interested in playing just one sport. She wants to play volleyball in the spring and not soccer all year ’round. She had a blast playing this weekend, but absolutely refuses to play on a tournament team in the springtime.

At what age do you ask a child to specialize? I’m seeing it happen younger and younger every year, and I’m not convinced that these kids are particularly gifted, or that they even care. When do you say to your child, “You’ve just got to do this.”?

How do you manage the other child? And when do we as parents just get to say, “No, I’m not hanging out in an RV at the park for two days so that you can play soccer.”?

Maybe there’s some part of the soccer mom culture that just escapes me, maybe I just don’t get it, and maybe I’m too selfish to want this for my life too.

There’s only one thing I know I’m right about. Funnel cakes, Papa Johns Pizza and Kettle Corn do not belong at soccer tournaments. That part was just ridiculous.

Comments 5

  1. The Push Your Kid To The Breaking Point Of Athletics is as much a part of my area as anything else. Hockey, travel soccer, year round swim amongst the biggest (all played indoors). I figured it was dealing with the climate that doesn’t allow year round outdoor play. I detest it. Many of the children in my community lose a huge sense of childhood. They are almost incapable of free play. Being that they are spending anywhere from 4-10 hours a week in an organized arena under a dictated practice, they miss some of the many important traits of learning from one another. Not to mention the painful cost, some of the hockey teams my children’s peers play on run the parents close to 10K a season. These sports pull the kids out of school for tournaments everywhere from Boston to Canada. Insanity is a severe understatement.

  2. It sounds like she knows what she wants, which is great. Coaches, and clearly parents, will tell kids to specialize, make rules (like telling them not to ever miss a game), but for what…to get a scholarship, to be the best or make a competitive team? I’ve seen parents push their kids until they end up with pneumonia, scheduling private sessions following team practice when their child is clearly exhausted, it’s awful.

    I believe the goal is to have fun, and playing other sports may actually make her better, if that’s what you’re worried about. I’m not an expert, although my husband is a professional soccer coach, but from what I’ve seen the kids who end up really excelling are obsessed on their own…my husband, and I see it in my kids, play soccer all the time – they kick the ball around the house, they rest for 10 minutes after getting home from a game and they are back outside playing.

    When you have two kids who both have a game at the same time in different places and a husband coaching his own team it’s physically impossible to have a parent at each game, so I wouldn’t worry about missing the occasional game. Although I’m clearly not an ideal soccer mom, as I also could care less if the kids don’t like the fruit and water I bring for snacks.

  3. I have been struggling with some of these same issues. I am leaving it up to my kids. My middle daughter is great at everything she does. She is a natural athlete, and super fun to watch play. She up until last year had been playing softball and basketball, rec. not year round. Last year she tried cross country and track. She excelled at both. This year though she has decided to give up cross country and softball and focus on basketball. She still plans to run track as she really loved it. She would love to play basketball on a travel team but that is something I am just not ready for. I have seen kids who burnout. I want her to have fun. I should add that I suggested that she continue to play softball as she was good and she enjoyed it and she is holding her ground. I won’t push. I am just happy my kids enjoy sport and make healthy food choices. I a country with an obesity problem my kids are not obese. I wont push them to play because I want them to have fun. When it is no longer fun they wont do it. I think they no how to specialize all on their own. Just my two cents.

  4. I was captain of three sports my senior year of high school, but one of them was my true passion and I naturally put more practice and energy into it. I was never forced to specialize, and I’m glad! I don’t really understand the point of it, other than to make the kid a “star” so as to feed the parents’ ego. Let her have fun. Let her lead the way. Just my $.02.

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