Wild Soccer Dad or Howler Monkey?

Watching your kid play soccer, or any sport, can be a joyous occasion or break your heart.  Sometimes both in the same game, match, competition or event. 

I’ve seen it all over the years watching soccer matches. Parents screaming at their kids, storming the field to make a point with an official, kids begging parents to just. stop. I’ve talked about it, written about it, thought about it and come to the conclusion that my job as a parent is to provide support, understanding, enthusiastic cheering and just simply be there. Now that my kid is playing at the college level, I’ve learned that being there still means everything to her and she’s willing to forgive the occasional lapse on my part as I contribute my opinion to a call made on the field.  “That was all ball,” is my common advice after one of her awesome slide tackles. To-date, no official has responded with “gee, I’m sorry — missed it — never mind!”

One of the joys of D3 athletics is traveling to other universities and seeing the architecture, the facilities, the other kids. Just this year I’ve seen colleges in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Indiana and throughout Ohio. They are all beautiful and each is unique. Parents at this level are nice people for the most part. They drive a couple of hours or more to see their kids play and they all just seem happy to be there. You run into each other in the stands and more often than not feeding the team in the parking lot after the game.

The competition on the field is fierce and the players are celebrating successes, wins, goals or trying to understand what they can do to help their team and be a better player. If you watch closely, you can see it all. Sadly, what I saw Saturday was a parent who wasn’t, clearly, just happy to be there. Watching his daughter play on a beautiful Saturday afternoon on a great field with an historic college serving as the backdrop wasn’t enough for this guy.

I don’t know his name, but he is the first person in memory that I would have happily punched in the nose. He really did get inside my pacifist skin. Throughout the first half of the match, his vitriol and incredibly loud voice served as an irritant for “our side” and infected “his side” more and more as the match went on. Playing to a 0-0 tie in the first half, the young women on the field were intense. They were working so hard, on both sides, and it was purely a joy to watch these young athletes in their prime.

Our team went down by a goal in the second half and everything seemed to ratchet up a notch, both on the field and in the stands. My daughter had a throw-in (for you non-soccer-people she was throwing it in from the sidelines) right in front of the other team’s fans. She’s really good at this, but that particular throw-in wasn’t her best and I could see from the look on her face that she knew it even as she let it fly.

And then, Loud Dad from the other side stood up and screamed as loud as I’ve ever heard anyone scream, “nice throw number three.” He screamed at my kid. Before a moment went by, I was on my feet, pointing at him and calling him out. Me. Pacifist. “You! You never yell at my kid!” I was beyond furious in that split second. He started to stand up when the person with him urged him to sit. Lucky for him, because this soccer mom was out of her mind angry with him. There is nothing on earth so dangerous to man as a woman completely out of her mind with fury who perceives her child is under attack. Nothing.

Eventually the match was over and our kids took the loss. My kid processed it coming off the field and as is her bent she took responsibility for the loss. Despite my assurance that it was, indeed, a game and no, her team didn’t hate her. And yes, there will be another game in a couple of days. Life goes on — how did you do on that research paper?

I couldn’t get Loud Dad off of my mind, however. Away from the team I swore to never return to that college if “that’s the type of people they have there.” Of course, it isn’t. They have students in residence, not their idiot parents. That’s a good thing.

Then, Sunday morning, while reading the news from the week, it all became clear. I read an article about a study performed with Howler Monkeys. Howler Monkeys are very loud. Aggressively loud. That’s how some of the males attract females. By being very loud. More interesting than that, however, is that the study concluded that the loud monkeys were the ones with the small testicles so the only way they could attract partners was by being loud. The monkeys with the big ones just didn’t have to yell so loudly. What do you know about that? (Howler Monkey Study Abstract)

Now, make no mistake, I am not calling this screaming human a Howler Monkey. Frankly, that may be an insult to a monkey just trying to get his freak on. But coming down through the Hominidae family tree . . . well some traits just linger don’t they.

howling fatherhowler monkey

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