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Went to a fight & a youth soccer game broke out

Monday, September 16, 2013 - Updated: 9:38 AM

A volunteer youth soccer coach is out of a job. Just another Saturday afternoon in the high-intensity world of rec sports? Perhaps. But this past Saturday apparently got a little out of hand.

Amsterdam Youth Soccer head coach Matthew Chaires was asked to step back into an assistant coach's role Saturday after a confrontation with a parent during a game. Chaires instead decided to resign as a coach altogether. According to several people at the game, including Chaires himself, his demotion and eventual resignation stems from an incident involving an innocent 3-year-old (yes, 3) soccer player; his mother, who, although it is against the rules, stepped onto the field during play to encourage her son (who was playing against children twice his age); and the father, who reportedly took exception to Chaires' decision to halt play while the mom was breaking the rules.

In a nutshell: Coach Chaires apparently halted play while the mom was on the field. After the game, the dad approached the coach to discuss the decision. What happened next is a classic case of he said; she said. Some say there was pushing and shoving; others say there wasn't. Those involved and others on hand know the truth. The confrontation itself is not the issue here. Bottom line is, it's youth soccer, people. For Pete's sake. Did the coach act improperly? Don't care. Did the parent simply put his hand on the coach's shoulder or did he push him? Not the point. Don't get lost in the minutiae.

Before the letters start flooding in, this argument is not whether Chaires should have his job back. Or whether it is safe for a 3-year-old to be playing with kids twice his age (league rules allow it). Of greater concern is the fact that parents apparently can't follow direction and simply sit and watch their kid run around on a Saturday afternoon.

It's a bunch of little kids moving about in swarm-like fashion, having fun, running and kicking like children are wont to do. And it should be allowed to happen in spite of the inherent sideline cacophony of parental guidance, more intense than the action on the field.

Let the little kids play. Stay behind the white lines, sip your lattes, take your cell phone photos, then go out for pizza on the way home. Let the coaches coach. Let the kids kid.

Youth soccer should be about the children. It allows them to run around with their friends, get some exercise, some fresh air, perhaps develop an interest in a sport they can begin to take more seriously when the time is right. Kids need time to be kids. Parents in the roles of sideline superintendents (who actually ruin the reputations of those who attend these games for the sole pleasure of seeing their kids and grandkids having fun) can't see this because it's not written on the inside of their blinders.

Take a lesson, kids: These "grownups"? These are the people who are supposed to be teaching you how not to act like them when you get their age.

Teach the children well.

Yeah. That's happening.


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