Saturday, September 29, 2007

"SHHHHH, It's Silent Saturday!" (or, Now I've Really Seen Everything!)

So, am driving back from a wonderful sushi dinner last night when my wife tells me about an email she received about our kids' soccer league in Rancho Santa Fe, California -- the email was about "Silent Saturday!"

So, what is "Silent Saturday!"? Well, our kids (almost 5 and almost 8) play soccer Saturday mornings. And, "Silent Saturday!" apparently is the new rule to keep us parents quiet on the sidelines during the games -- in other words, no bursts of enthusiasm, no cheering, etc.

So, of course, being from the Midwest where I had never heard of such a thing -- and being enthusiastic myself -- I couldn't believe it. Thought it was a joke ... a prank ... a gag ... a gimmick.

So, my family and I go to our first soccer game at 8 am today and ... lo and behold ... "Silent Saturday!" is no joke -- it is reality! How do I know this? Well, for one thing, a little girl dutifully passed out Tootsie Pops (which, by the way, are my favorite) with little wrappers around them that said, and I quote verbatim, the following:

ON THE FRONT OF THE WRAPPER:

"SHHHHH! (yes, 5 H's)
It's Silent Saturday!"

And, ON THE BACK OF THE WRAPPER -- EXPLICIT INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE PARENTS:

"No Coaching,
No Yelling,
No Shouting!
(just applause for the players!")

So, I think to myself -- this is a bit over the top, right? I mean, I understand the league (which does a great job by the way) needs to ensure that parents don't get crazy, but, instructing us not to cheer for our kids? Not to be enthusiastic? Essentially, neuter the overall experience? C'mon. I wanted to try to forget about it, especially because I got a lollipop out of it.

So, I can't do that -- why? Because, now it's game 2 for the morning, and we go to a different field. And, this time, in addition to lollipops, there is a big sign in front of the field with, you got it, the same "SHHHHH (with 5 H's) It's Silent Saturday!" admonition (and instructions). And, not only that, this time each of us parents also gets a printed green list of "Sideline Suggestions" -- "(10 Things Kids Say They Don't Want Their Parents To Do)."

So, now my head is spinning. I think to myself ... am I the only one here who believes that we have gone a bit too far here? I love the concept of civility and I hate the overzealous and overly aggressive sports parent as much as the next person, but aren't sports all about enthusiasm? Don't we want our kids -- and ourselves -- to have some fun and to cheer our kids, our friends' kids, our team, the other team, and the overall experience? Isn't that precisely the point? And, are we really at the point where we need printed instructions to tell us where "the line" should be drawn?

So, here I sit following the two games -- both of which were great and fun -- and during both of which parents merrilly licked their lollilops and cheered positively and sometimes wildly for all the kids on the field (no doubt in small part fueled by the sugar rush from "Silent Saturday" lollipops!)

But, SHHHHHH, please don't tell anyone ... (oops, I used one too many H's!)

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