Sunday, April 11, 2010

soccer dad

We have all heard the term ‘soccer mom’ but when was the last time you heard someone refer to himself as a soccer dad? You might think this is some new age terminology but the truth is that dads have long been attending soccer matches for their kids but it is often the mom who, being a stay at home mother, totes the kids to matches along with their friends and then hangs out with other like minded mothers.

There is nothing wrong with this picture, that of a soccer mom, but what does the picture say regarding dad? For years we have established that dads didn’t always make soccer games because of work or other responsibilities (such as golf with buddies), but for the last 15 years that I have been standing on the sideline, mostly as a coach, the signs are clear; dads are at the games.

Adding to participation rates of dads is our current economy, which has seen a rise in women maintaining positions in the work place while men lose their jobs or they work part time. This of course frees up men to take more of an active role in things like soccer games, but even with that, when was the last time you heard a guy declare himself a soccer dad?

So let me openly use the term for all to hear (and read); I am a soccer dad. I for one am grateful for the opportunities I get to spend with my kids, and being out there for them as they play sports is a real joy. I watch them work hard to impress me when they know that I am watching and I get a kick out of seeing them interact with other kids that are doing the exact same thing. Watching all of this play out seems so natural to me but I remind myself that it has not always been this way.

Thinking back to my playing days as a young boy, I remember my dad being there occasionally but I also remember feeling like he was out of place. There were always dads at the games but something feels different about then versus now. Possibly it is my involvement in the game (I coach, oversee the local parks & rec. soccer program and also play), but I wonder what these times say about soccer dads today as opposed to 35 years ago?

If you asked either of my kids what their dad does for work, they might slip up and say, “he’s a soccer coach”, or “he coaches other soccer coaches”. And while I do have a job that pays me, the truth is that a large portion of my life is taken up by soccer, so the term “soccer dad” fits. But that term is of greater significance to me when I remember that I am a dad first and soccer comes second. Watching my kids tear after the ball is a joyous thing and I relish those moments, even when they get down on themselves for not being as good as they think they should be.

For those of us that have embarked on this privileged journey of fatherhood, we know that there are moments of brilliance followed by trials of uncertainty, both on the part of our kids and ourselves. Whether your sport is soccer or your place of involvement is the science lab (science dad?), we have such an awesome responsibility to be a part of the lives of our kids. To me, being a dad is sharing with my kids all of the experiences that have shaped me from childhood, while also sharing the unique lives of my kids as they share with me.

Being a soccer dad is just one way that I am privileged as a father. Watching as one of my kids scores a goal and then turns to celebrate with both hands in the air, the greatest moment for me comes from seeing them revel in their own accomplishment, then looking at me with that infamous face that screams, “did you see that dad?”

Yea, I’m a soccer dad.

My life is not mine, and yet it is mine to live for Him. 
Peace to you all.


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