It’s called Silent Soccer. Maybe you’ve heard about it—perhaps by way of hand gestures or a sporty little mime. Nothing loud or boisterous, of course.
Youth leagues have been implementing Silent Soccer weekends (fingertips to lips here) where parents and fans on the sidelines are told to put a sock in it. No yelling, no cheering, no screaming, no coaching from the sidelines.
Some leagues allow polite clapping, others do not. Some leagues allow parents to wave signs and rally towels, others encourage parents to bring lawn chairs, pillows, their favorite jammies and take a nap. Not really. But they could.
Believe me, at some of the soccer games our son played in as a little guy, a nap would have been entirely possible. In his first league, he even got the trophy to prove it. “Participant.”
But that was then and this is now, when a growing number of parents apparently confuse youth games for the World Cup. A few bad apples behave aggressively, yelling, screaming, berating their own children, making rude comments about other people’s children and bellowing to outcoach the coach. It’s not mature or attractive behavior, but on the upside, at least they’re looking up from their cell phones.
In Silent Soccer, the only thing parents and fans can say is, “Ssssshhhhhh!”
No whistling. No noisemakers. No breathing. I made that one up. You can breathe. But only with permission.
Don’t talk among yourselves. And keep your eyes on your own paper. I made that one up, too.
The next step will be requiring hall passes to leave the sidelines to visit the concession stand or the restroom.
It is just a matter of time before the NFL adopts “Silent Sundays.” I can hardly wait for the “White Noise Olympics.” Maybe next would be the “Would You Please Be Quiet World Series?”
I always thought learning to play the game involved learning to tune out the noise on the sidelines. Or maybe that was the goal of motherhood—learn to focus on driving and tune out the noise in the backseat.
Silent Soccer is an infantile idea imposed on the masses instead of addressing a few fans behaving badly. The bottom line is, if you act like a child, there is no shortage of people happy to treat you like a child. Even if you don’t act like a child, there is no shortage of people happy to treat you like a child. Unfortunately, we have sent a number of such people to Washington.
Maybe what the soccer leagues need to do is proclaim “Grown Up Saturdays,“ where adults are encouraged to root, cheer, and have a good time, but act like adults. Let the coaches coach, the kids play, and the adults model some self-control by leaving the attitude and the trash talk in the car.