A Funny Video About Youth Soccer Parents

29 11 2010

 

 

A colleague sent me this Xtranormal video today about a youth soccer mom’s advice to the coach. I had to share it.

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You Don’t Often See This!: Sexualized Male Athletes

3 05 2010

Vanity Fair layout of World Cup players

Today a student (thanks A.N.!) sent me a link to a Vanity Fair piece on the upcoming men’s soccer 2010 World Cup being held in South Africa this summer. The title of the story, The World Cup’s Stars Wear Their Flags—And Little Else—For Annie Leibovitz pretty much summarizes the piece.

I’ve written often about how media routinely sexualizes female athletes, rather than focus on their athletic abilities and achievements.  This Vanity Fair piece and June issue  is a rare example of the same pattern for male athletes. The argument is not that male athletes are never sexualized. The main point is that female athletes are disproportionately sexualized in the media (female athletes only receive 6-8% of all sport media coverage ) compared to male athletes. The other point is that when female athletes are sexualized it often undermines perceptions of their athletic abilities, while when male athletes are sexualized it rarely leads to the perception their athletic achievements are questionable. What do you think?





Example of Reproducing Traditional Gender Roles in Soccer

12 10 2009

This example comes from Fox Soccer.com titled Soccer Wives and Girlfriends. Why this is on a sport website is interesting food for thought. I looked for “Soccer Husbands  and Boyfriends” on the WPS website but (thankfully) did not find any. It is picture essays like this that relegate women to the sidelines. Not to mention only including pictures of male soccer player’s female partners and companions is not very inclusive.





What if the athletes were boys, not girls?

2 06 2009

question_mark_3dIn a previous blog, I wrote about a male soccer coach in Minnesota who had his U12 elite girls’ team throw a game to the U13 girls’ team in the same club (Minnesota Thunder Academy).

A great MN female youth soccer coach I emailed with has a great point about this scenario. She writes,

Could you imagine if a coach had told a team of highly competitive boys to purposely throw a semi-final game to get an invitation to go on to a regional tournament? I believe people would be outraged – I definitely don’t think the sentiment would be “ Let’s move on, we have learned from the mistake.” This team he asked to purposely lose is a hand picked, highly skilled, immensely competitive group of girls and he asked them to bow out of a game – and most people seem to be okay with it! I can pretty much guarantee this would have NEVER happened if this was a boys team. I am not even touching on the fact that this was against any and all spoken/unspoken rules regarding coaching ethics. I am very concerned that a coach of his caliber would have his girls team lose on purpose because it was the “classy thing to do” – I ask myself would he have done this if he was coaching boys? That question hasn’t even come up in the communities because, I am saddened to say, I think most people still look at girls sports on a different level than boys. The playing field definitely does not seem to be level.”

Well said Coach!





How Not to Coach Soccer: A Lesson From Minnesota

25 05 2009

iStock_minority girls soccer_XSmallWhen I’m not writing about gender, the other part of my research, teaching and outreach pertains to youth sport—mainly studying and trying to improve sport parent sideline behavior, and helping coaches be more effective. When a story broke last week about a Minnesota club soccer team, many of my colleagues and former students forwarded the story link to me which got quite a bit of press here in Minnesota and around the country.

In short, two of the Minnesota Thunder Academy (MTA) teams played each other in the State Cup final to see who would advance to the Regionals—it was the 12-and-under girls v. the 13-and-under girls. The game ended with penalty kicks, when Coach Abboud asked the younger girls to pass the ball nicely to the opposing keeper, in essence throwing the game to the older U-13 team, instead of taking the penalty kicks to win the game. Chaos, tears, frustration, confusion, emergency meetings at all levels, commentary, opinions, anger, a public apology from Abboud, and parental support for the coach ensued. To read all the details go to, the Inside Minnesota Soccer article, the Star Tribune article, and Coach Mark Abboud’s own contrition on his blog.

Let me put this incident into a broader context of youth sport trends. The MTA is one of the most elite of soccer clubs, for “serious soccer players”, meaning they hand pick the best kids from other clubs around the state. In fact, the MTA girls recently joined the inaugural Eilte Clubs National League…yes, “national” league for 13-year-olds.

Winning_iStock_000005893466XSmallSome would argue this type of sport club is the poster child for everything that is wrong with youth sports-specialization, not developmentally appropriate, a win at all cost philosophy, year-round training, privatization, overuse injuries, burnout due to high stress and anxiety, dropout, overzealous parents, highly paid coaches with big egos, treating children like “mini-professional” athletes, and highly structured and governed adult-run clubs and organizations (to name a few).

red card_iStock_000003976608XSmallSport provides many “teachable moments”. Good coaches teach athletes to give full effort, focus on what they can control, treat opponents with respect regardless of the situation, and accept the outcome with grace. One decision by a coach does have an impact on everyone involved, and this is a cautionary tale of how not to coach because, simply put, it taught the wrong lessons. In soccer terms, this coach deserves a red card, and possibly more severe sanctions.

P.S.-A critical gender note. Notice the Minnesota Thunder Academy that houses both boys’ and girls’ teams is the namesake of the men’s team (the Thunder), and not the women’s team (the Lightening).thunderightning