Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Next time I'll act.
It's been a rough couple for weeks to be a Dad watching and hoping to influence the world of fatherhood. I've observed or crossed paths with multiple events that were disturbing examples of failure.
One was the soccer coach ranting at his goalie after a loss at the siren. While I was overjoyed that my son's team poked the winning goal past in the final seconds, bringing the first win of a tough season, the opposition coach was most seriously displeased. He had stalked the far sideline the whole game, showing no personal restraint of emotion, nor any hint of understanding that words can build OR destroy. Placed in a position of great responsibility, not to win insignificant U13 soccer games, but to influence adolescents in a very challenging phase of life, he was "Exhibit A" of all that is wrong with societies concept of how to build, nurture, protect and serve the children we are so fortunate to be blessed with.
Instead of doing what an honorable man would step up and do, such as taking that boy quietly to the side and addressing whatever issue he had with his play, he settled on an act of premeditated cowardice.
He deliberately chose to humiliate him in front of his whole team, as well as everyone else within 30 yards.
You could see it in the boys eyes, the drop of the head, and the holding back of the sobs that were sure to come as soon as they pulled out of the parking lot: something inside, part of his foundation for adult life and manhood, took a huge hit at that moment and cracked. What a small, bitter, lazy coward of a coach.
But I failed too. I knew I should have left that boy with a word of encouragement as we passed on the way out. I knew I should have caught his eye and popped a "Hey, forget what he said, you played a great game", or "Son, don't take it to heart, you saved so many others", into his crumbling emotional state. But I didn't. And weeks later, I still regret it. I don't know his name, but his face will stay with me, etched in that area of conscience that warns of hypocrisy. You see, we all have tremendous power to build up or tear down our own kids, and all the others we come into contact with. But if we are not intentional about building, we may be by default, supporting destruction. I'd been presented with an opportunity to right a great wrong, and I didn't act.
Next time I will.