Monday, March 16, 2009

Youth Soccer Follies

TurfMonster.com, begun in 2004 as a semi joke, chronicles playing conditions and gossip in the North Texas area youth soccer leagues.  It has grown to 18,000 members, averages 2.5 MILLION page views a month, and has spawned incredible vitriolic trash talk about teams and parents.  Dallas Morning News:
In a perfect world, Shipley envisions TurfMonster becoming a more prim and proper social networking site. But he admits that, at least for now, it is the forums that drive the engine.

"It's just nasty out there," Shipley said. "That's why Turf Monster exists in North Texas."

Web site etiquette forbids the use of players' names and discourages identifying them by number. Describing a player by position, hair color, body type and skill set is perfectly acceptable.
[...]
Welch, who coached recreational soccer and has served as a parent manager in select, says the site is an outlet for parents who have sacrificed time and money for youth soccer. "We are competitive parents who have bred competitive kids, and many of us are sometimes cocky and arrogant and pushy," he said. "But we don't mean anything by it."

Double identities
In fact, the hardcore posters have come to know one another by introducing themselves at games by their screen names.

"You try to figure out who someone is by what teams they talk about, where they post and how they act at games," said Arlington's White, who is a freelance writer. "It's not that hard."

Some clubs, including the powerful Dallas Texans, have tried to discourage parents from actively participating on the site, Shipley said. "Parents just changed their screen names and came right back to us," he said. "Most of the people who visit our site are Texans parents."

Shipley says he knows what he knows because many of his former Burn teammates and friends coach at the major clubs in the area. He speaks to them regularly. He believes his site has attracted such a passionate following because it is anti-establishment.

"The clubs are so powerful that people usually have to succumb to their whims," he said. "People need an outlet when they don't like a coach or think they are not getting what they signed up for or not getting their money's worth."

Shipley will order a forum to be taken down if he deems it inappropriate or libelous. He is not a lawyer but has consulted attorneys.

Twice there have been threads accusing coaches of sleeping with players' mothers. Both times, after investigating, including talking to the moms and the coaches, Shipley found other parents on the teams guilty of starting rumors because they were jealous of playing time.

As for the forum that posed the question asking about the most-hated team in different age groups, it attracted 4,500 views in less than two weeks.

Then Shipley pulled it.

"It just got too filthy," he said. "I have language filters, but there are too many ways around it."

And which team was it?

Shipley mentioned the team's name and added it was a '99 squad. "It was unbelievable," he said.

The girls were 9 and 10 years old.


Update - from the comments:

Waco Futbol Man
I have been to more soccer games than I care to remember. Soccer parents are some of the worst ever. I think that comes from most parents not having played the game. It is a beautiful game that I personally like to watch quietly. On several occasions I have just moved to another spot on the sideline to avoid the bad sportsmanship. Grown ups will ruin a kids game every time.

Southern Brother said
When Bailey Marshall headed up the UIL he was upset with his secretary taking to much time on the phone with parents. 'See he told her...let me show you how you do it' and he grabbed the incoming phone call...irate soccer Mom...an hour and a half later Bailey Marshall was still on the phone with the entire office laughing histerically and out of control

In the first year the UIL sanctioned soccer, they had more court/litigation cases from soccer alone, than they had had from F'ball, B'ball, and Baseball combined over the previous ten years. One case...all white school losing to all black school...in the final minutes they chant 'hey, hey thats OK..ya'll gonna work for us oneday!'

Hooligans..send the sport back across the pond! More deaths, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, concussions, and knee injuries than football...dangerous sport with volatile uncivil unsportsmanlike fans

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

HA! Shades of University Little League on the Net!

gcotharn said...

Heh. University probably did pretty good - considering how competitive everyone was - to not have gigantic fights! Thank goodness the internet wasn't invented.

Who is this? I would love if you could identify or email me: gcotharn[at]yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

I have been to more soccer games than I care to remember. Soccer parents are some of the worst ever. I think that comes from most parents not having played the game. It is a beautiful game that I personally like to watch quietly. On several occasions I have just moved to another spot on the sideline to avoid the bad sportsmanship. Grown ups will ruin a kids game every time.
From Waco cousin.

gcotharn said...

Hey Waco Futbol Man. I especially thought of you when putting up this post. I thought you might have comments!

Southern Brother said...

When Bailey Marshall headed up the UIL he was upset with his secretary taking to much time on the phone with parents. 'See he told her...let me show you how you do it' and he grabbed the incoming phone call...irate soccer Mom...an hour and a half later Bailey Marshall was still on the phone with the entire office laughing histerically and out of control
In the first year the UIL sanctioned soccer, they had more court/litigation cases from soccer alone, than they had had from F'ball, B'ball, and Baseball combined over the previous ten years. One case...all white school losing to all black school...in the final minutes they chant 'hey, hey thats OK..ya'll gonna work for us oneday!' holigans..send the sport back across the pond! More deaths, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, concussions, and knee injuries than football...dangerous sport with volital uncivil no sportsmanship fans

gcotharn said...

You are Jeff Post's new hero. He's not a soccer fan.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous spent 8 years celebrating 8 wedding anniversaries with hot dogs, chips, coke & keeping score. Anonymous also witnessed the "competitive" spirit of grown adults missing high school sports and wives missing high school dating - catty comments et al. It was interesting to discuss such behavior with Maurice & Nancy during the following week. Thanks.

gcotharn said...

So, what are my hints?

8 years. Check. A good hint.

A June bride? Well, THAT narrows it down - not! I say "bride" b/c a man is less likely to notice wives missing their h/s dating days.

Now, who knows the name "Maurice"? Not that many persons.

Who would be speaking with Maurice and Nancy the following week? Another good hint.

I think you've given me enough hints to solve the puzzle. I look forward to someday confirming this in person. That will be a nice day.