Well, that’s one way to approach it

From Harper’s Magazine:

[Editor’s Note:] From a March email by Michael Kinahan, coach of a soccer team for girls aged seven and under in Scituate, Massachusetts, to the children’s parents. After parents complained to league officials, Kinahan resigned, saying in his resignation letter that the email was meant to be “a satire of those who take youth sports too seriously for the wrong reasons.” The email was obtained by the Patriot Ledger.

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.

Okay, 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 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 percent 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.

Some say soccer at this age is about fun, and I completely agree. I believe, however, that winning is fun and losing is for losers. Ergo, we will strive for the W in each game. Although we may not win every game (excuse me, I just got a little nauseous), I expect us to fight for every loose ball and play every shift as if it were the finals of the World Cup. As I spent a good Saturday morning listening to the legal-liability BS, which included a thirty-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 and bruises, 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 whistles. My heckling of the refs actually helps them develop as people. The political-correctness police are not welcome on my sidelines. America’s youth are becoming fat, lazy, and noncompetitive because competition is viewed as “bad.” I argue that competition is crucial 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. They serve only as a reminder that you missed your goal; their only purpose is as an inspiration to do that next set of reps. Don’t animals eat what they kill? (And yes, someone actually kills the meat we eat—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 sweatxedo-wearing yuppies who sit on the sidelines in L.L. Bean chairs sipping mocha-latte-half-caf-accinos 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 and know they are playing for something.

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 to 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!

  • Eric Miller

    Is this the part where a bunch of half naked unshaven guys covered in blue paint bolster up a God fearing War Cry?

    But seriously as the father of a daughter and former soccer player myself I am with you.

  • Ethan Case

    I know he was joking, but I almost wish he wasn’t. We need more people like this.

  • Mike

    It’s amazing how we can’t find a reasonable middle ground in this.

    Kids always know the score, they want to play on a good team that is trying to be better and trying to win. Pretending that kids won’t know who lost and won because there’s no official winner is bullshit.

    HOWEVER, playing youth (12 and under, I would say) sports purely to win kills your pool of players who are available for higher levels. It limits development only to those kids who mature quickly and who want that kind of commitment at an early age. My high school basketball team, for example – our junior high coach was very much a play to win sort of guy. He played 7 players total until the final minute, even if we were already ahead by 20.

    By the time I got to high school, the early athletic kids had mostly moved on to other sports, football mainly. Half of the slower developing kids had quit because they never got to play, and the half that stuck with it were now playing varsity ball with two to three years of less of game experience because they never got to play earlier. I think that single coach drove half of the school’s available players (it was a small school) out of sports with his win-first attitude.

    I think at early levels, you need to play to win with all of the players that you have. Work the kids who are slower at getting things into the lineup in pieces so they don’t have too much of a chance to screw up, but still give them a chance to play and develop. Early sports are about development – you don’t develop if you aren’t being competitive, but you don’t develop sitting on a bench, either.

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  • Reactionary

    The letter may have been tongue-in-cheek, but this guy believes most of what he wrote. And he’s right.

  • David Strangefellowe

    I am applaud at learning of this. To see a letter of that sort past out to children and parents as a joke distresses me beyond words. It should have been real. Parents that whine and hover over their snow flake do the child no service. Our parents survived the dangers of growing up, so did their parents, and their parents. This constant push for protecting fragile egos and bubble wrapping life leaves the children crippled and un able to survive in a world that will not cater to them. I for one price every scrape, bruise and broken bone I gained as a child, and young adult. Hmm, and full adult now that I think about it. Not letting your child live and learn about dangers as a child and how to deal with them, will only ensure that they can not deal with it as an adult.

  • Noneya Buisness

    I’d just like to say, if my wife and I ever decide to have kids, I hope that all the coaches/teachers they encounter in summer rec. sports, and school are as cool as this guy…the over-bearing parents who complained should be ashamed of what the kids are now going to miss out on…a fun soccer season! (Go Green Death!!)

    P.S. EVIL!

  • Michael Thompson

    Fine. He’s a clever guy. Some of the things he said (particularly the final paragraph) make sense and I understand the spirit of it. However,

    1) Very few parents have a sense of humor when it comes to the education of their children.
    2) Comparing your team to a “cult” will invariably piss off the spiritual.
    3) Making light of Michael Vick’s crimes against animals is NOT FUNNY IN ANY CONTEXT.
    4) Good luck convicing your daughter that she is not a “loser” after a loss when the coach tells her “losing is for losers”.
    5) Heckling the refs does not teach your daughters to develop as people. It teaches them to be disrespectful to authority. It teaches them that they should never volunteer to be a referee for a girl’s socker team because some renegade coach will heckle you.
    6) Making light of steroid use by children is NOT FUNNY IN ANY CONTEXT.

    Do you people even have kids?

  • Michael Thompson

    …and, yes. I know it is supposed to be satire. And, yes, I know I spelled “soccer” wrong. If that’s all you got, move along…

  • myemail21479

    The girls are 5 and 6, let them play. This guy is right, the parents only embarass themselves when they force their own competitiveness and ambition on kids this age. We should be applauding things like teamwork and being active, which are the real lessons learned in team sports. I played many youth sports, a handful won trophies, most did not. Winning was not the life lessons I took, but a spirit of being stronger as a team, and working together.

    To the others, you have your whole life to be bitter and angry, but please don’t punish your sweet 5 year old girl because she decided to frolic after the soccer ball because it is fun to kick, instead of run full bore to get there before the other girl. C’mon!

  • AERose

    The lesson I take from this is that I shouldn’t have kids.

  • Kids Football Shirt

    Parents that whine and hover over their snow flake do the child no service. Our parents survived the dangers of growing up, so did their parents, and their parents. This constant push for protecting fragile egos and bubble wrapping life leaves the children crippled and unable to survive in a world that will not cater to them.

  • Daniel

    Well said, Michael! As a parent of two boys who played little league baseball, I was always disgusted when the entire team got trophies at the end of the season just so that the underperformers and benchwarmers would not get their feelings hurt. This did nothing but devalue the achievements of the kids who gave 100% in every game and inflate the self image of the kids who stood out in center field kicking dirt clods. Teaching kids how to compete is critical. From highschool, through college, and into professional life we all compete; for grades, to get into the best universities, for jobs, for promotons, and for your spouse. Second place in any of these is failure, and you don’t get a trophy just for showing up.

  • fauziwong

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  • Marleen Doe

    Michael Thompson:

    You need back off!
    This is awsome… well done!