Fair Play Life Lessons for Girls from NCAA Women’s Soccer
Hofstra (10-8), making its fourth appearance in the NCAA Tournament, lost its last three games of the regular season.
PickyKidPix and I hurried to the game. Her practice ended at 8pm on a Friday so we were only going to be able to make the last half of the first round NCAA playoff of Boston College versus Hofstra. It was 1 to nothing. BC was leading when we got there and we got seats in the middle of the stands near our friends from school; we all go to the same elementary school as the coach’s daughter.
Alison Foley, my mom friend and BC head coach, had forewarned me. Hofstra had 18nyellow cards and 1 red cards for the season. BC? Just 2 yellow cards.
I was expecting shoving, pushing, elbows and maybe some tripping. I sat next to Alison Foley’s sister, who drives up from the Cape for all her sister’s games. She’s a seasoned soccer spectator.
When BC’s Vicki DiMartino had the ball, all of a sudden her head jerked back.
“What the…? She did not just get her hair pulled by #10?!!”
“Looks like that!”
Vicki’s ponytail was yanked but the ref didn’t catch it.
Ten minutes later, it happened again.
This time, a BC player got choked when she received the ball. The Hofstra player had her arm up high, pushing against the BC player’s neck choking her. (My kids demonstrated her move to me.) The ref caught that one and BC got the ball.
This is not soccer. This is WWF wrestling.
I can understand on some level that the NCAA tournament is elimination soccer. You win and move up or you are done for the season. Leave nothing on the field. Except maybe your dignity. Or even better, your integrity. Except no one seems to care about that at Hofstra.
As a parent, I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I’ve watched my kid get battered on the field, deliberately tripped every time she had the ball and about to do a breakaway, with a young ref who doesn’t see it. But it’s worse on the other side. My oldest was coached by a college player who was hired to help her team to play more aggressively. Unfortunately, this training resulted in her team committing two dozen fouls in a single game. They dominated the ball, but they lost the game. My husband who watched the game was incensed.
“What are you teaching these girls,” he asked the college student coach.
She shrugged. “The ref’s calling a tight game.”
We had a long talk at dinner that night. Cheating is never good. We don’t care what the coach told you, we don’t want you to play that way.
It’s interesting that the coverage of the game never notes the brutish play by Hofstra. And I wonder what life lessons those players take when they are off the field. That it’s ok to cheat if you don’t get caught?! Or, cheat as long as you only get caught a small percentage of the time? I wonder why their coach turns a blind eye to this. I find that appalling as well and I would never let my child play for that kind of coach, given a choice.
Given that these players won’t likely have a professional soccer career in front of them, I also wonder what will happen to them. My husband says that a round of golf is the best way to discern the character of the person. Someone who cheats in golf behaves the same way off the course and is to be avoided in his book.
But not everyone agrees. PickyKidPix was so annoyed by two Hofstra dads cheering one stand over to us. They clearly had no problem with their girls thuggish style of play, yelling and encouraging them as they shoved and pushed.
In the end, cheaters always lose. On the soccer field and in life. At least, that is how it should be. Can someone please let #10 and #15 know this? Maybe their parents? Or their coach?
As someone who hires college students, I was appalled by their behavior and I can tell you that I would never hire them. Ever!
The upshot is that cheaters never win. Buh-bye Hofstra! First round elimination. And they lost their last three games of the season as well. Perhaps better behavior would result in more composure on the field. And that would translate into a better season. Give that a try next year.
Has this type of soccer field behavior ever happened to you? How do you handle it? Please share.