Barry Rubin – who very, very clearly wrote his own Wikipedia page – decided it would be a good idea to use the journalistic stage to play one of modern society's most sympathetic characters: the loud-mouthed, egotistical suburbanite pissing and moaning about his kid's soccer coach. Then he ups the ante by turning the whole thing into a lesson about how liberals made his kid a pussy. Since his intended audience is the regular readers, if any, of Pajamas Media, there's a good chance that he expected his rant to draw plenty of nodding heads and comments of sympathetic agreement. Outside of that bubble of sadness and Joe the Plumber fans, however, "It’s How You Play the Game: The Fate of Western Civilization and Grade-School Soccer" does not fare quite as well.

Or does it?

No, I was right the first time. It doesn't.

It‘s something of a stretch to compare a soccer game among eleven-year-old boys with the fate of the democratic world, but I’ve always managed to see big issues in small things.

i.e., "This is retarded, but I am going to do it anyway. Inexplicably I will soon ask you to take me seriously."

Really, Barry? This is "something of a stretch" like Mitch McConnell is something of a sour, hatchet-faced prick. Like the Hindenburg had something of an accident. Like Pajamas Media is something of a joke, even by internet standards.

My son is playing on a local soccer team which has lost every one of its games, often by humiliating scores. The coach is a nice guy, but seems an archetype of contemporary thinking: he tells the kids not to care about whether they win, puts players at any positions they want, and doesn’t listen to their suggestions.

This could not start out more poorly, BR. You do realize that this is how every rant from a loudmouthed parent about his kid's soccer coach (a topic, incidentally, about which no one on the face of the Earth cares) begins, right?

"Man, this coach is such an asshole. Tyler only played like 20 minutes today, and he only got the ball twice. I screamed at this guy for like an hour and he just ignored me. Then I show up at his house after a couple of beers and you know what that asshole did? He called the cops. He called the goddamn cops."

He never criticizes a player or suggests how a player could do better. My son, bless him, once remarked to me: “How are you going to play better if nobody tells you what you’re doing wrong?” The coach just tells them how well they are playing. Even after an 8-0 defeat, he told them they’d played a great game. And of course, the league gives trophies to everyone, whether their team finishes in first or last place.

I'm going to ruin some of the suspense and point out that these kids are 10 and 11.

I’d even seen an American television documentary about boys and sports which justified this approach, explaining that coaches were doing something terrible by deriding failure, urging competitiveness, and demanding victory. So were the kids really happier to be “relieved” of the strain of trying to win, “liberated” from feeling bad at the inequality of athletic talent?

Barry would cite the name of this "television documentary" but he could not find a link given that it aired only on the Barry Rubin's Imagination network. Thank god he was able to remember all of its key points so he could construct his straw man.

Or am I right in thinking that sports should prepare children for life, competition, the desire to win, and an understanding that not every individual has the same level of skills?

No, you are not even remotely right about that. Sports are not to teach kids how life works. Sports are for kids to get exercise, and they are more likely to do it if it's fun. It's only thanks to emotionally unstable Jock-Dads and the worst fratboy aspects of our culture that anyone would imagine people learning life lessons from a contact sport.

A central element in that world is rewarding those who do better, which also offers an incentive for them and others to strive,

Sometimes doing better is its own reward, like when doing something inconsequential like playing soccer when you're 10.

rather than thinking they merely need choose between becoming a government bureaucrat or dependent.


See, we were traveling down Loud, Boring Blowhard Avenue and we took a very sudden left onto What The Fuck Are You Talking About Street.

Read that again. That's how fast it happens. That is how fast these people turn normal things that happen to normal people (like seeing a lemonade stand) into Parables of Conservatism.

The playing field was perfectly even, but the boys were clearly miserable. They felt like losers, their behavior rejecting the claim that everything was just great, or that mediocrity was satisfactory as long as everyone was treated identically. They knew better than to think outcomes don’t matter. In a truly sad gesture, one boy had suggested before still another losing game that they form a circle, put their hands in, and cheer themselves: “Like the good teams do.” Halfway into the season, the kids had even chosen a nickname for the team that expressed their sense of being weak losers.

None of this happened. If you have ever been within 1000 yards of 10 year olds playing soccer, you are well aware of the fact that no one gives a shit about the whole enterprise except for the parents. Those kids would rather be at home playing Wii. They would rather be playing something without adult supervision. They would rather be doing anything except playing soccer while their parents yell at them. The idea that these kids sunk into a deep depression because their coach on Team Trotsky was preventing them from winning makes it clear that this entire story took place in Barry Rubin's head.

When the opportunity came to step in as coach for one game, I jumped at the chance to try an experiment. I’ve never coached a sport before, and am certainly no expert at soccer despite my son’s efforts. Still, I thought the next game could be won by simply placing players in the positions they merited, and motivating them to triumph.

"Unlike their coach, I knew which positions they merited because like every suburban dad on the planet, I think I know everything. I know better than every coach, teacher, and fancy-pants expert you can throw at me. I am God. I am a flabby-assed God with a wife who hates me and two annoying bastard children on Paxil. Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair."

I didn’t put terrible players in at forward or in the goal. It didn’t take any genius to do so, just basic sports common sense. You don’t need Ayn Rand to tell you which way the wind blows.

Ah, "common sense"…the last refuge of the person who thinks he knows something but can produce no evidence in support of it.

I wonder if Barry Jr. was one of the kids he arbitrarily deemed "terrible" or, by some magical coincidence, Little Rubin is the bestest, specialest, most talented little Pele on the team.

Before the game, I gave them a pep talk, with the key theme as follows:

I bet that helped. 10 year olds really pay attention to Asshole Dad doing his Win One For the Gipper impression.

Every week you’ve been told that the important thing is just to have a good time. Well, this week it’s going to be different. The number one goal is to win; the number two goal is to have a good time. But I assure you: if you win, you will have a much better time!

"Because…umm…you can use the victory to convince yourself that you're better than those losers on the other team! If I do this just right, you'll soon learn to derive all of your self-worth from convincing yourself that you are, by some arbitrary criteria, better than other people. That's why I drive this 2007 BMW 335xi. It's so you can tell that I'm better than Bob Johnson and his lame-ass Honda Accord. Look at Owens in his little Prius. What a fag. Are you kids getting the message yet?"

And that’s just what happened. They took a 1-0 lead and held it, in contrast to the previous week when it was scoreless at the half but turned into a 3-0 humiliation when someone ill-suited was made goalkeeper just because he wanted that job.

What a magnificent coincidence. Of course, none of those 10 year olds remembered the outcome (and certainly not the details) of the previous week's game, but rest assured that the neurotic Little League dads did.

When kids with fewer skills didn’t want to play defense, I pointed out that these were critical positions, since winning required preventing the other team from scoring. At the end, they performed heroically, holding off repeated attacks on their goal.

What, all of the sudden this is the French Army at Verdun? It's a kids' soccer game. By definition, nothing that happens in a little league soccer game can be heroic. I don't care if Timmy Anderson scores four fucking goals on a broken leg while adopting an abused dog and teaching two underprivileged kids to read. It's not heroic.

I worried that the boys who played less of the game and were given seemingly less significant positions would be resentful. But quite the opposite proved true. With the team ahead, they were thrilled. One shouted from the sidelines something I thought showed real character: “Don’t let the good players do all the work!” Instinctively, he recognized that some players are better, but he wanted to bring everyone’s level up rather than down.

Odds that this actually happened: zero. The odds are zero. Pretty convenient that the 10 year olds would start yelling things that sound like slogans from The Fountainhead just as Coach Galt takes over and realizes he could use a few zingers in his column.

I’m tempted to say he was going against what he was being taught in school.

You're not tempted to do it if you just did it. Also, what?!?????!? Where do you send your kids to school, Barry? Is it some special charter school that uses a patented combination of math, science, and belittling comments to put the kids in their place nice and early?

They played harder, with a bit more pressure and a less equal share of personal glory than they’d ever done before. But after the victory, they were glowing and appreciative, amazed that they had actually won a game.

I want to point out that Barry Rubin just described the children as "glowing and appreciative" of him. I am getting a kick out of picturing a group of uninterested 10 year-olds waiting to be rewarded with a trip to Pizza Hut as Barry looks on and says to absolutely no one in particular, as people take great pains to avoid him, "Look at how much they appreciate what I did for them!"

Suddenly, I noticed that one boy’s mother was really angry at him, claiming he hadn’t showed good sportsmanship because he was too happy over the victory. Not seeing anything that might have provoked her outrage, I wondered whether this was a suggestion that one should apologize for winning.

So, to be clear: Having absolutely no fucking idea whatsoever what this supposed scolding was about, if indeed it actually happened, you just went ahead and assumed that it was a demented liberal (woman, of course) acting out your straw man argument and punishing her child for winning.

Makes sense to me.

Still, the bawling out didn’t put a damper on his big smile.

"In one short hour, I became more important to him than his mother. Everything he had ever been taught was rinsed away by my powerful lessons."

Next week, of course, they will be back to losing.

Without you, Barry, how could they win????

But I think that perhaps they learned something useful to counter the indoctrination they are getting in school.

Barry, whatever school you are sending your kids to, be sure to let me know so the rest of us can avoid it.

If you don’t care about winning, you’re merely handing triumph to the other side.

Which you wouldn't care about.

In a soccer league that might not matter, yet in personal life, your level of achievement and satisfaction is going to depend on giving your best effort. If a country is indifferent to succeeding, the opposing team’s success might be very costly indeed.

Bingo, Barry. You've nailed it. America is in trouble because we all want to lose. We don't care if we're unemployed and the country falls apart. Totally indifferent. How did you know?

As I said at the start, perhaps not too much should be read into this little parable.

"Perhaps" you could have pondered this point more seriously 1100 idiotic words ago.

Yet the broader question may be the most significant issue of our time: why should Western democratic societies abandon the techniques and thinking that have led to such great success, in order to embrace failure as glorious or victory as shameful?

I am tempted to say "Presented without comment" and let you ponder this sentence by your lonesome, but I just need to point out that he describes his attitude as something that has "led to such great success."

It would be facile to point out that Barry Rubin is a dickhead, so please focus on the fact that he is the worst possible kind of dickhead. The kind that thinks that what the whole world really needs is to listen to him and all of its problems will be solved. In reality, of course, this IS the problem. Our problem is the millions upon millions of self-centered assholes, each one a god in his or her own mind despite having accomplished nothing and not maturing emotionally beyond grade school, walking around thinking that the problem with America is that everyone refuses to listen to ME. Next time Barry Rubin really feels like making a difference, I suggest taking a look in the mirror and shutting the hell up for once in his life rather than pedantically lecturing people based on their choices as he imagines them.


  • Can you both let the kids pick their own position and not listen to them.

    A good coach can both not criticize and help a player work on their weaker areas.

    I am happy that Barry Rubin is not my father

  • This myth of Unique Snowflake syndrome has got to end. Not belittling your children does not make them weak, it makes them not resent you.

  • I love Barry's example of a genius.

    Da Vinci? Nah…
    Newton? Pfft….
    Einstein? I think not!

    Ayn Rand. Genius.

    This guy is a hat full of arseholes.

  • If Barry wants his kid to be in a competitive situation, make him try out for one of the travel teams. I don't understand why these parents bitch and moan about this shit in Little League baseball and in Parks and Rec. soccer. If you think your kid is so damn good at a given sport, let him try out. If he doesn't make it, he'll have to suffer the wrath of playing for fun.

  • Or am I right in thinking that sports should prepare children for life, competition, the desire to win, and an understanding that not every individual has the same level of skills?

    I'm amazed by the number of people who think this, and also think that Title IX is a Trotskyist plot to deprive their son's football team of their God-given right to 90% of the school sports budget.

    Apparently, in Ayn Rand-land (and I'm kind of entertained by Rubin's implication that she might have weighed in on the sweeper vs. flat back four defence, if not for Rubin's own sports strategy genius) girls don't need to be prepared for life, competition, and the desire to win.

  • Oh, that was funny! But it is sad that the freedom of the internet allows pathetic little tin gods like Rubin a chance to spew extremely bad writing upon a website every week or so.

  • We ran into sports dads just like him on the soccer field starting at the FIVE-YEAR-OLD level. One dad (a neighbor of ours, lucky us) actually got into a fistfight with a referee over a call he disagreed with. It was quite an eye-opener for us–the kids were FIVE; we were happy if ours faced the right direction. Because, you know, they're FIVE. In our three years of playing soccer, we saw it all: parents booing from the sidelines, parents throwing temper tantrums, parents obsessing over what position their child would play on the field…it was ugly.

    Side note; at 8, our son wanted to switch from soccer to baseball, but was not allowed to join the rec league, because he hadn't "come up through the league" by starting T-ball at 3 and playing straight through. Yes, at the age of 8, our son was an athletic never-was because he'd only played baseball in the neighborhood and at school. @@

  • I grew up in ancient times, when soccer was something foreigners did, in a neighborhood where we organized our own games. I learned everything important I know about politics and human nature in that neighborhood. The rules of the games were settled with a political system somewhere between Jeffersonian Democracy and Lord of the Flies. Little League existed somewhere down in the town, but seemed more like training for the military than fun. As far as Rubin goes, I think you misunderestimate him. He seems to be skillfully nuturing kids for their future lives in a banana republic. That toxic little stew of hyper-internalized, yet meaningless striving mixed with a delusional faith in meritocracy and just deserts is the very stuff that tinpot dictators need to keep things bubbling along.

  • displaced Capitalist says:

    Children should be given spears an facepaint, dropped off in a jungle and let them have at it for a few days. That'll turn them into MEN!

  • I think you're right about Rubin, but sort of wrong about youth soccer. I think kids can learn a LOT about life from sports (providing Barry Rubin is not their father/coach). Since I have a 9 year old kid playing travel soccer I've had the experience of seeing three distinctly different types of coaches. The Screamer, the Educator and the Soccer Mom. He learned a ton from the Educator who set expectations for behavior, sportsmanship and teamwork. He learned some good soccer from the Screamer. I guess he's learned independence from the Soccer Mom.

    Sport CAN build character, but NOT if you obsess about winning. You want to make sure that's a goal to work towards, but a well fought loss can show more character, perseverance and grace than a blow out win over Barry Rubin's son's team.

    My son… well, he's a handful, but he's learned the value of hardwork from practices and clinics, and has actually applied it to his homework now.

    Good coaches in youth soccer (especially town rec leagues) are very rare, and Rubin Jr.'s coach sounds like a guy who just wants to help out and pitch in. He's a fucking volunteer trying to get the kids some exercise, not Bruce Arena.

    But even 7 and 8 year olds care deeply about winning and losing. I have dried many an eye on sidelines as a parent and a youth coach. They do care. For about fifteen minutes before Teddy the Ice Cream man shows up.

  • "Common Sense." The last refuge of the person who thinks he knows something but can produce no evidence in support of it.

    PURE GOLD. I love it. (…oh no, what have I done? By complementing you I've actually discouraged you…and myself…and AMERICA!)

  • Rubin sets up a false dichotomy between (a) an approach that makes no effort to teach kids how to play well (because it's all for fun, so just let them run around and cheer them) and (b) an approach that focuses on winning the game as the main objective.

    The proper approach to youth sports emphasizes age-appropriate skill development. You teach kids what they are capable of learning at a given age. (At 5-7 years of age, you work on nothing but individual skills. Team play concepts are beyond them — and if the kids haven't mastered basic skills, the team play concepts are useless anyway. By the time they are 10, you can teach team play concepts alongside continued emphasis on individual skill development.)

    What Rubin doesn't seem to understand is that winning and losing shouldn't matter all that much at this age, but — and this is the important part — that doesn't mean that competition isn't important. The point is that every kid can be challenged to improve. The measuring stick is not the other team, it's themselves. Are they maximizing their potential? Are they developing their talents to the maximum given their endowments?

    And if the answers to those questions are negative, it's not the kids' fault — it's the coach's fault.

    So, youth coaches do indeed bear a heavy responsibility. It's not a bunch of silliness that no one, including the kids, should care about. It's important. Kids thrive when they see that they can get better at something. Even if they are terrible at something at the beginning, if they can have some success by demonstrating a newly acquired skill — even in a losing effort — they will be thrilled.

    Great youth coaches are indeed rare. It takes a tremendous amount of effort and forethought to figure out exactly how to maximize the potential of each kid on the team. But great coaches who do this, end up winning with monotonous regularity — not because they focus on winning, but because they develop talent.

    Rubin's approach may yield a couple of wins here and there, but the kids who are relegated to the sidelines are not learning anything, he is doing them a disservice. I have encountered many youth coaches of his ilk in my 42 years, first as a minor hockey player myself, now as a parent. Here's what happens to them: they win occasionally. But when they play teams coached by guys who focus intelligently on developing the age-appropriate skills of every kid on their team, they lose. Always. And then, because they only care about winning, they turn on their kids. And that is a bitter, bitter experience for the kids on that team.

  • displaced Capitalist says:

    Hawes said:

    Good coaches in youth soccer (especially town rec leagues) are very rare, and Rubin Jr.'s coach sounds like a guy who just wants to help out and pitch in. He's a fucking volunteer trying to get the kids some exercise, not Bruce Arena.

    Yeah, I think this is exactly it. The coach is just an ordinary guy, not some marxist trying to destroy America's youth, and neither the "educator/screamer/soccer mom" that Hawes describes. Poor bastard probably got more than he bargained for.

  • displaced Capitalist says:


    Yeah, I think that's exactly what Ed addressed when he said:

    If I do this just right, you'll soon learn to derive all of your self-worth from convincing yourself that you are, by some arbitrary criteria, better than other people

    Rubin's goal doesn't seem to be helping the children improve, it's just the false status created by becoming a "winner." Therefore people who drive BMWs = winners, people who drive Priuses = losers (and/or ghey!!111one)

  • I am tempted to say of Rubin "Nothing a bullet in the head wouldn't cure". But I'm using that phrase way, way too often lately.

    Time to vaporize a little romulan maybe.

  • Oddly, he doesn't seem to be signing up to coach an entire season. I would think that Coach Galt would relish the opportunity to inspire young minds and bring greatness and glory upon himself. But I suspect that if they're not paying, he's not playing.

    Volunteering is for commies and liberals (but I repeat myself)…

  • Displaced Capitalist, I agree. A kid who learns how to skate or improves their physical fitness because they're having fun learning a sport has built a real basis for self-esteem. A kid who is taught that he or she is a "winner" because their team won a game while they sat on the sidelines has been cheated.

  • "The number one goal is to win; the number two goal is to have a good time."

    Important to note that he's working with pre-teen kids.

    Remember, Goal 1 is to somehow shows that you're better than other people. This supercedes any fun-having. Kids should not play to have fun and enjoy themselves, they should play so that their sad, pathetic jock-dad fathers can masturbate to their vicarious glory after the game.

    We see this all the time with the parents that get downright violent at childrens' sports games. Being miserable, worthless little corporate drones themselves, their only source of self-worth is to live vicariously through their children. And they hate losing, whether or not their children actually give a damn.

    And though this sort of thing does happen in other parts of the world at sports games (see: futball stampedes), it happens during *adult*, professional-league games. Not with *children* at completely meaningless not-even-Little-League games.

    Because few places have a populace as neurotic and depressed as ours, where people have completely given up any hope of deriving even a single shred of joy from their miserable, company-owned lives, and thus turn to children as surrogates.

  • The irony here is that Rubin is a dickhead because of his angry response to a situation with his son and G&T is acting like a dick because he is angry at Rubin. I know this might be shocking, but as usual there is a middle ground. I coached flag football for third graders when I was in high school. The 'season' was only five weeks long with a playoff and I entered two weeks in. My team was 0-2 and was hating it. The coach before me had the same attitude as Rubin's son's coach and what I saw was kids who thought they were wasting their time. I agree that after the fact a third grader couldn't give a shit less about the game or score but when they are actively doing something they need to feel engaged. Nothing is worse to a kid that age than doing crap they don't care about. So, you make them care about what they are doing. Not with the 100+ page speech from Atlas Shrugged, but by showing them that winning is the by-product of excellence, not the other way around. Rubin's kid's coach is bad not because he isn't teaching kids how to injure during a slide-tackle but because he isn't doing his job. In a 'fun' league like that, there is no reason a team should have no wins unless the coach simply doesn't give a shit.

    I don't believe that all of Western Civilization depends on 10 year old soccer players and it is pretty obvious that Rubin caters to the mom/dad with 2.5 kids and a mortgage. So it makes sense that his article is little more than empowerment fantasy for every castrated dad that reads the WSJ. But there is a nugget of truth under all of the wish fulfillment nonsense he blathers. It is tough to see your kid lose at something, but it is even tougher to see him unhappy. A coach that engages and teaches them -like Burple said- is the most important thing for those sports. I agree that 'fun' leagues are mostly for parents anyway, but to juxtapose Rubin's Suburban Psychosis with a coach that doesn't care as 'Wrong v. Right' is a false dichotomy at best and just plain stupid at worst.

  • I loved playing soccer as a kid, even though my dad would run up and down the field screaming at me to do this and do that. He wasn

  • SN2:

    I like big pussy, actually I'm kind of built for it. You, on the other hand, would just flop around in there.

  • Meanwhile, your European readers are befuddled as to why the good 11-year-old players aren't in proper football academies yet.

  • @mojidoji

    Another pussy heard from.

    @Elder Futhark

    So what you're saying is that you're the guy who fucks fat whores??


  • Rubin's Wiki reads like his mom wrote it, or maybe his wife; but this article makes me wonder if he's fudging his resume. Did he write like this for his Fulbright? Who is encouraging this man?

    Delicious and infuriating FJM as always…but: playing sports taught me a lot. Aside from teaching this geeky child how to be physically outgoing (which helped me defend myself later and shouldn't be underestimated,) playing sports taught me to win graciously, lose graciously, how to cooperate with people I didn't like in pursuit of a common goal, and that protecting an asshole teammate on the field will make him treat you better off the field (and allow him to hear you when you tell him he's being an asshole.) How to deal with bad calls by a ref, the importance of fair play, how to keep working when you're tired and hurting, why low morale can sink a winning team and how to be encouraging when you feel like bitching and whining, that hard work sometimes results in failure and why you have to keep trying…all kinds of stuff.

    Anyone who sneers at teaching kids these lessons through sports should keep in mind that they sound like cliches, but they are useful and true, and that they are not old chestnuts to young kids who are on their first time around the block. I don't trust any numbers in ads, but there is also this:

    Of course, the coaches and parents who overstrain kids' bodies and warp their minds should fry. But competitive sports have a world of good to teach, not least of which being that it's better to play the game than watch the game.

  • "When kids with fewer skills didn’t want to play defense, I pointed out that these were critical positions, since winning required preventing the other team from scoring. At the end, they performed heroically, holding off repeated attacks on their goal."

    It's amazing that these unskilled 10-year-old defenders suddenly turned into a bunch of Fabio Cannavaros and held the other team scoreless as soon as Rubin took over. Simply because he told them they should want to win…brilliant!

  • Ba-ZING! After two scintillatingly HILARIOUS putdowns — in the same comment, no less — comic genius SN2 retires from his Herculean intellectual pursuits well satisfied and smirking, astew in his own farts.

  • I remember hearing a story about a skinny sickly kid who was the stereo typical "picked last kid". Supposedly, he was given opportunities to improve his skills and to *play* (nothing's more demoralising than being relegated to the bench w/ no chance of parole). Under good coaching this sickly kid went on to succeed. Not just that he went on to lead his team and give his country it's first international sporting success since the 60s. On the home ground of a country that lived to humiliate his in sport. That man was Jonny Wilkinson and the victory was in the **real** sport of the Rugby World Cup for England in 2003.

    Makes one wonder how many Jonnies are lost because of some f-wit like this? Also this "meritocracy" bs, doesn't it go against the American ideal of "equal opportunity"? How do you get an equal chance if Coach "Iknowbetter" of course puts his kid in as striker (cause we know his kid isn't benchwarmer material).

  • Thank you internet nerds. I'm really enjoying my time here with you as well.

    Now you can malign me for my use of the term "nerds" and tell me how, in this day in age, being a nerd is really cool and is more of a compliment than a put-down.

  • @SN2:
    Try as you may, you just can't give a proper swirly over the 'net. Although I'm sure all the girls are all giggling and blushing.

  • 1) Hooray for Ed, ladiesbane, and Xynzee. Great points.
    2) You don't know my kid, Ed. Boy, howdy, how I wish you did! So many people around here are either the caricature Rubin derides ("everyone gets a trophy for participation, and we should even remove the scoring system from games") or the caricature Rubin is ("winning IS everything!"). It would be better if there were more people saying "being competitive is important" AND "this is a fricking game, and I hope you have fun and do as well as you can." And it seems, at times, that my son is very susceptible to dipshits like Rubin.
    3) Number 9.

  • @Asian Maskhadov

    I called the the author of the post a "pussy". All his little bobbleheads then began chiming in with their 2 cents, so I replied in kind.

  • Exactly right, Hazy Davy. Acting like a pee-wee soccer game is the World Cup Finals is ridiculous, but if you're playing a sport, it's much more fun to play to win. Gets you more into the flow and all, y'know.

    AL: Although Rubin's story is clearly an opium dream, I can totally understand how kids who couldn't play striker to save their lives could be competent defenders. Defense is a lot less about athleticism and a lot more about focus and effort.

  • @ Hazy Davy

    But there is no reason not to give every kid a trophy for participating, especially if we are talking about children 8 and under. Trophies are not important, but kids like them. So give every kid a trophy.

    The idea that something terrible is necessarily going on if everyone (or no one) gets a trophy is a very foolish one. Giving every kid a trophy does NOT mean that you don't reward hard work, learning, excellence, and so on. You reward THAT with pats on the back and praise, not with hardware.

    And when a kid isn't giving you their best, you let them know (in age-appropriate ways, so not the same way with 7 year olds as with 12 year olds) that you notice, that you think they're capable of doing more/a better job, and you want to see it. And when you see an improvement, you let them know you've noticed that too. This sort of guidance is far more important than any trophy.

  • Aslan Maskhadov says:

    @SN2, Yes, unlike you I am able to grasp incredibly obvious concept. You called him a pussy, so obviously this means you must be some kind of badass. Please tell us however, what makes him a "pussy" specifically. I must have missed it.

  • I've met hundred of pricks who see the world the same way Barry does. They have achieved modest success but have developed egos that interpret this as some sort of mastery over the losers who have failed to live up to their level.

    While they may be doing better than the burger flipper or the guy at Kinko's, they have never truly been great at anything. Instead to looking upward and trying to compete with the truly gifted and talented (and coming away a bit humbled), they lord their modest achievements over those who have achieved less than they have.

    Truly accomplished people tend to be humble and supportive of those who have achieved less. They are much more likely to be mentors and to lead through encouragement and praise that the middle management type who rule their underlings with an iron fist and a closed mind.

    He may have a point, however, about the western world's obsession at winning at all costs. Western culture has devolved into a winner-take-all system that refuses to acknowledge or reward the supporting players and lavishes all of the praise and material wealth on the strikers who claim that they made all of the goals on their own.

    Winning feels great and most of us would rather be on a winning team but this small-minded douchebag refuses to pay attention to the fact that great teams depend more on cooperation and working toward a common goal and that the greatest lessons to be learned from competitive sports have much more to do with the organization of the group than the complete worship of a few star players.

  • Elder Futhark says:

    Let's face it, even fat whore pussy is better than (well, what with that scrawny little number of yours) absolutely no pussy. Ever. At any time throughout short squalid wallow in a turd tank that you call your life. That humiliating tawdry flyspeck of time that the entire history of the universe would sooner just forget about, violating causality itself at the risk total nonexistence rather than endure one single more nanosecond of the fetid rancid suppurated fistula of an wide open ass gash which is, well, YOU!

    You simpering liberal butthole!

    And your tiny dick too!

  • Y'know, I used to work for the Boy Scouts (and the bastion of liberal thought that group's become), so I have some experience with parent-led kids groups, and I know what type of parent Rubin would be.

    He talks about the soccer coach as if this is someone that REALLY WANTED to be the coach, and was selected by some committee after extensive search, interview, and testing. More likely, this is the guy that knows next to nothing about soccer, but was willing to be the coach because no one else would do it.

    Makes you wonder where Rubin was when they were asking for volunteers, right? I mean, if this coach is so blatantly unqualified and Rubin knows so much about how to do it, why didn't he step forward to lead the team to a perfect season, and teach them about life?

    Because this is the parent who would rather let someone else do the work, sit on the sidelines, and bitch about how badly the unpaid, under-qualified, well-intentioned volunteer is doing.

    If he really wants to make this a parable about politics (or some other "important" part of life), that puts an interesting spin on his attitude in that arena as well. He doesn't want to be part of the process, he just wants to look good by criticizing those who are.

    The best run Scout troops were ALWAYS the ones where those parents were kicked to the curb. Or politely informed that while they were welcome to come with on camp-outs and field trips, their assistance was not needed in the planning stages or committee meetings.

    The ones where those parents stayed highly involved (or worse, took charge) sometimes became very strong for a few years, and then collapsed into total chaos and disaster when someone actually looked at their books and records, or the blowhard parents left. Again, an interesting parallel for the way Rubin wants to run a business or the government.

  • @Hazy Davy:

    Don't be too quick to buy in to Rubin's straw man. Ed's point is that Rubin is an idiot, not that everything he says is wrong. Do you really think an adjunct professor does not understand the importance of competitiveness?


    You are not funny or insightful, so you either have something to prove or you made a misguided attempt to fit in and got your feelings hurt. If it's the former, I'm not interested unless you are going to make a point; if it's the latter, then I sincerely apologize if you were offended.

  • @mojidoji

    I guess the world needs guys who are as meek as you to raise the illegitimate kids that your wife conceived while getting hammered by real men.

    Vacillating, equivocating and apologetic for being born men. Your wives and girlfriends must be dripping wet. (Elder Futhark must be dripping wet with grease and melted cheez whiz)

    If you're a female then I couldn't care less what you think, but since you can operate a computer I'll just assume you're a male.

    Or maybe you're a eunuch?


  • Elder Futhark says:

    Oh, goodie, I am specially targeted by the little bug SN2. Yay!

    Must have touched a nerve, I guess. Hell, must have a hit a major neural conduit with a billion volt jolt!

  • Aslan Maskhadov says:

    Wow SN2, that's quite a sexual identity problem you have there. But could you just focus REAAAL hard just for a few minutes and explain why the author was a "pussy" and why these other people are so "meek" in your opinion? What, were you some kind of super-competitive soccer player in some badass underground league, where matches are played on a concertina-wire enclosed pitch sewn with anti-personnel mines?

    I'm just wondering, because if that IS the case I guess it makes sense and your anger at these people is totally legitimate. If not, you just sound like a typical internet-tough-guy who couldn't get laid to save his life without the aid of horse tranquilizers or money, and you probably own at least one t-shirt from Tapout gear, perhaps even a set of truck balls(compensation for actual testicles). So which is it?

  • @SN2

    I normally make it a point to no feed the trolls but let me make a guess at who you might be:

    You're probably about 19, you've pledged the date-rapin'ist frat at your lackluster college, and are convinced that the height of humor involves making homoerotic jokes about your bros' dicks and the size of their mothers' vaginas.

    More than likely, the sums of your sexual experiences include obsessive viewing of internet porn and jerking off on chat roulette. You have never actually had a relationship of any sort with a woman and believe that your lack of action with the ladies is due to your "high standards."

    You think that being born male automatically entitles you to respect while you simultaneously shake in fear at your prospects in life. You know that you are neither bright nor witty and you hide this fear only by mocking others you think are even weaker than yourselves, generally behind the anonymity of the Internet.

    So, am I close? Yep, I thought so.

    Look, there are about a million places where your childish brand of humor will be welcomed but this blog is written for people who think, listen, and respond with more wisdom and authority than you will ever be able to muster. You may want to simply read and learn from those who have opinions worth sharing.

    In short, you are out of your depth.


  • Aren't all the nations really good at soccer from Europe and South America?

    Isn't the political right completely opposed to the ol' USA doing anything that makes us more like Europe?

    Aren't these the countries Rubin and his band of merry misfits would LEAST like America to emulate?

  • AC makes excellent points. I belong to a non-profit group staffed by volunteers, and there are a lot of willing incompetents holding positions of responsibility…and suffering the snark, kibbutzing, and backseat driving of many who are not actually lending a hand.

    At least they're not spinning their "experience" (i.e., watching other people try to do jobs for which they have no training) into ca-ca about how "Western democratic societies…embrace failure as glorious [and] victory as shameful."

    p.s.: my sophomore English teacher would have blue-pencilled Mr. Rubin to his knees and required him to rewrite this piece. Shameless.

  • SN2:

    2/10 on the Troll Scale for lack of subtlety/creativity.

    Better luck next time, bro. Keep working at it and I know you can eventually be a middle-of-the-road 5/10 troll! You need to do your homework, though…better go find some of the Schools of Trolling out there.

  • idea: the best way to get rid of trolls is to ignore them.

    Coming to this thread quite late in the day. Should I spell out the obvious connection, or at least obvious to me? When I consider the categorically different focuses of the parties prior to the midterms and going forward to 2012:

    Dems: With what policies can we get the country out of the recession?
    Repubs: What can we do to beat the Dems?

    The parallels with Coach #1 and Barry Rubin line up quite neatly. The disaster is that our citizens don't/can't see the difference–nor, quite often, can they see the difference between the prominence that comes from talent and creativity and the prominence that comes from the raw pursuit of power for its own sake. The finish line is all that matters to this latter group, no matter how they have to scratch and claw and cheat to get there.

  • SN2: 1

    ginandtacos geeks: 0

    It was close. You guys almost squeaked it out at the end with your lame-ass attempts at vilifying me but in the end, the winners win and the losers go back to their boring, meek, second-rate lives.


  • @anotherbozo:
    Normally, I wouldn't feed the troll, either. But SN2 is such a cartoon that it's hard to resist seeing what he'll do next. I'm almost sure he's a parody of a parody – he makes Tucker Max look like Bill Hicks. If he's for real, he needs his tubes tied ASAP.

  • Bleeding Gums Murphy says:

    When my boy was 9 or 10, I coached (assistant coached, actually) him in his baseball league.

    We wanted the kids to enjoy themselves and they did.

    We made it to the playoffs, and the opposing team was 1 player short and would have to forfeit. We talked to our players, who volunteered to give the other team a kid or two so we could play a game.

    Parents fumed.

    We lost.

    When the game was over, and the fumers left with their kids, the 10 or so kids who remained asked us if they could stay awhile.

    We hung out with these kids while they played ball, short handed on each side, no score being kept, for about two more hours. Only the sunset ended our season, and the kids were most definitely NOT scarred by having been decent to other kids, even though that decency cost them advancement in the championships.

    You see, they just wanted to play.

  • I learned all sorts of useful skills for working cooperatively with others by playing violin in the school orchestra. Personal accomplishments were rewarded by raises in status and responsibility (better "chairs" and more difficult parts) and everybody, talented or tone deaf, worked hard for the common good of producing a performance that was enjoyable to ourselves if not to our unfortunate audiences.

    Team sports… meh. Running, swimming and cycling have more longevity.

  • How dare you compliant, tractable, milquetoast heroes of a bygone era call ME a coward. I came to your little outpost of stupidity just to try and get an accurate measure of the level of stupidity and rose-coloured-glasses-itis that the quivering masses are inflicted with. In the process I yelled at a couple of you and you started crying and whining like newborn meerkat babies while waiting for your big sisters to come in and pummel me with their limp-dick excuses for retorts to my hellfire posts.

    SN2: 2

    Meerkats: 0

    This is starting to turn into a rout. And please stop parroting me.

  • I'll just note that whenever I'm the scorekeeper in a game I'm playing, whose rules I make up on the fly and change as needed; I can almost always manage to be ahead by more than 2-0, 12 hours later.

    But, then, I also use semicolons.

    On a more serious note, the valuable development that kids can get from a variety of group activities – sports, music, scouts, theater, dance, or whatever – is being involved in something bigger than oneself.

    Developing a talent and the ability to do something as well as you can, while also learning to deal with other people and work toward a common goal is the life lesson that means something here.

    I remember my high school band director instilling this idea in us: The band is a better band because I am in it. Effort and achievement, not showing somebody up.

    Competition is part of human nature, for good or for ill. But it need not be stressed in the efforts and activities of pre-teen kids. There's plenty of time for that later. And it most certainly will come.


  • In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since*: "Anything worth doing is worth doing well." Of course, he also said: "Not everything is worth doing." When I was the age of these kids, I signed up for a softball league. I knew little about the game, but my parents were *huge* baseball fans, and so I joined partly to please them, but mostly because some friends of mine were joining, and it sounded like it might be fun.

    It was not. Not because my team wasn't good–we were. For all of my nascent nerd-ness, it turned out I was able to consistently hit ground balls that earned a single, and that my hand-eye coordination was solid enough for the position of catcher (plus I got a kick out of how, with all that protective gear, it didn't hurt when runners slammed into me on their way to home.) We weren't superstars, but we had a winning season.

    But I was miserable. The game just wasn't any goddamned fun, and I told my parents so. (And probably in those exact words.) They replied that I had made a commitment to the other players for the season, and so I would have to stick it out. "But," they added, "now you know that it's not for you. Work on finding something you like, and then do *that* well."

    "Because," my father further added, "chances are you're not going to enjoy much of the stuff you'll *have* to do in life, so if you can't have fun when you can, you're doing it wrong."

    In short, if winning made it fun for these kids, great. But if they were happy losers, also great. Because at the end of the day, it's a goddamned game, and not even a *real* one.** And even assuming everything that Rubin wrote is true (it isn't), I guarantee you that the kids enjoyed winning because, to hear Rubin tell it, it was novel and easy. (No extra practice, and they'd never done it before.) Take those same kids and make them put in the hours, and after their fifth consecutive win, they will be back to miserable. Why? Because everything gets boring pretty quickly when you're 10, and because the things you have to do to win at sports–hard work, practice, discipline–all good things to master, by the way–reveal pretty quickly how utterly pointless (pardon the pun) they are when they're used to achieve a "victory", i.e. *nothing*. But hey, yeah, teach the kids to knock themselves out chasing a trophy and an illusory feeling of accomplishment that will turn into boring barroom bragging in 20 years. Don't, for the love of God, just let them have fun, and tell them to save the sweat for something with a pay-off.

    If you make work fun, you're either lucky or a fuck-up. If you make fun work, you're a moron and you'll die of a cancerous ulcer before you hit 40.

    *I may have borrowed this from another writer.
    **Because you can't use your hands and unresolved ties are frequent; QEFuckingD.

  • @Jazzbumpa: the first time I went to the symphony, I was floored, utterly floored, by the realization that all these performers were doing separate, minutely technical jobs to achieve a common goal. I couldn't think of anything else that required such close cooperation by so many people. (All I've really come up with since is the crewing of a large sailing vessel.) I'm glad you brought up music. (And I blow a kiss to James dePriest and the Oregon Symphony, 1987, for blowing my mind.)

  • Aslan Maskhadov says:

    SN2, it's amazing you can still type so many messages with the tears running down your face like that. Nothing funnier than someone who tries to troll and ends up getting trolled himself. So keep writing your "scoreboards" and calling people nerds but it's already apparent that you are a wannabe toughguy who probably owns several Puddle of Mudd and Linkin Park CDs, a Navy SEAL t-shirt, some Tapout gear, and a number of other products guaranteed to make you look tough in America's poser society.

    Personally I don't know what got you so butthurt about this article in the first place, because you refuse to explain it. So I'm guessing your abusive father forced you to play sports(among other activities), and as you sucked hard(like in those other activities), he heaped abuse on you every time you lost, which was pretty frequently. Look, you're a loser now too!

  • @ J. Dryden: I don't know why this thread stayed with me overnight, but having read yours this a.m., it boils down to two alternatives posed by the human potential movement of the 70s, which articulated, in its breathtakingly simplistic way, a dividing line between two points of view, two mindsets: life as fulfilling experience vs. life as the accumulation of symbols.

    You can use this prism to examine everything from kids' soccer to why certain men–who seem to have no aptitude for a job–become, for example, President. Since Dubya is on the scene again, hawking a book he obviously didn't even write himself, my wife and I were wondering why, given his lack of interest in governing, not to mention his lack of principles, he fought so hard to get the damn job. It's all about symbols, of course, from Air Force One to the Most Powerful Blah Blah Blah to everyone saluting and kowtowing. Did his mind benefit from the view at the top? "A lack of intellectual curiosity," they said. No, it was all about symbols, and probably about having one (two terms!) to one-up Daddy.

    The experience-vs.-symbol collection analysis can be extended to any field, any life. Of course it's wonderful to have external validation, but not at the expense of internal satisfaction. Without the thrill and savor of self-conscious experience, life is just a dusty trophy case.

  • Barry doesn't seem to explain why the kids on the other teams, which I would suppose were getting the same lessons from their school and parents, are kicking his kids 10 yr. old ass. The larger 'lesson' that his kid should have learned is that the teams that were beating him so badly were probably cobbled by the parents to make super-teams of the best 10 yr. old soccer players, and his kid wasn't on the list. Those with power and contacts will manipulate the system to get what they want, a 10 yr. old soccer championship. In a sense, it's exactly what he's bitching about, a 'free-market' of ten year olds whom, via their parents, make decisions that benefit them. Fortunately or unfortunately, Barry was too clued out to think that this kind of behavior would happen even at the park and rec level, which it does. Self-interest uber alles.

  • I coached football and soccer for 5 years in the 70s and 80s. The greatest lesson I found for these little guys (65 lbs) in football was cooperating together to have fun and at the same time TRY to win.

    Winning graciously and losing the same way, respect for the opponents' effort, class,…you would be suprised how they picked up these values. This was back in the day before trash talking and celebration displays were common in sports.

    We had 50% min playing time for all players in both soccer and football. When kids displayed that they were miserable, we worked on it for awhile, but if they were still unhappy we recommended to their parents that they drop off the team.

    My oldest' soccer team (6 year olds) played at a field near RR tracks and the county airport. It was hilarious to see the pack of buzzing bees distracted by a low flying plane making its approach or the start-up of a freight train…


  • To add to my comment, the hyper-competativeness that Barry champions, actually ends up making worse players. Pushing your kid at that age to try and win, win, win drives more kids out of sports than creates better players. What you end up with is the kids who were best at 10 being the only ones that survive into high school. And for my money the maxim is, "If you're good at ten you'll suck at 18." The rules should be, and certainly in park and rec, that the teams are split evenly, playing time is split evenly, you get to play all of your positions, you learn a few things but mostly, YOU HAVE FUN!!!!!!

  • Aslan Maskhadov says:

    I think I should try making some money as a conservative writer. Basically the formula is:

    1. Take an everyday anecdote about something you did, or exaggerate it, or just pull it out of your ass.

    2. Segue into how this everyday situation is actually a perfect analogy for some larger political/social trend that is either A. actually happening, or B. Not happening at all.

    3. Apply political ideology to everyone, e.g. the coach isn't competitive enough because he is a liberal, and liberals hate winning. And puppies. And America.

    4. Claim that things used to be better some time in the past, and that we need to start doing things that way again.

    5. Cash checks, get AM radio show.

    Example: So today I was standing by the entrance to the metro and this guy walks up to a corner of the building and starts taking a piss. Then suddenly it hit me(an idea, not the piss)- This is a valuable lesson about how the free market can solve any problem, and the Austrian school of economics is the only rational theory which can explain all our problems!!!

  • The corner of the building represents The People. The drunken, smelly, unshaven man (who probably supports Nancy Pelosi) represents Big Government. The three Steel Reserve tall boys he drank before pissing represent Our Tax Dollars.

    If we instead give those tall boys to the responsible frat house of Private Enterprise, they will create jobs in beer-bong quality control, piss-cleaner-upping and related fields, and the piss will trickle down.

    When I explained this to the unshaven man, he was stunned. He thanked me profusely and immediately began pursuing a degree in criminal justice. Finis.

  • *Completely off topic for Ed*
    Thanks for the great reference regarding how the Gov of NJ rejected Fed funds for the rail link to NYC. Someone I know was using a Benjamin Franklin quote to emphasise how the Dems make poverty "easy" for people.
    I rebutted that the by rejecting this rail link, the Republican Gov has effectively cut people off from being able to expand their job opportunities. Hopefully he gets the idea that poverty is the only real choice for many because of policy decisions like this.

  • I always thought that in biology (probably the only game that matters) that success is measured by the ability to reproduce and pass on one's genes (probably the only real measure of true success).
    Therefore, even though, they're smaller and probably don't amount to pre-mid morning snack for an adult lion. Merecats work very effectively as a team. And by doing

  • Aslan Maskhadov says:

    Acer, you have completed the unwritten 6th step of becoming a conservative author for me- getting someone else to actually write the book.

  • Hmm.. Thought I'd cancelled my post. So here's my conclusion.
    …by doing so ensure that their population grows. So in essence which is on an endangered species list? The big, mean, beat you up lion; or the adaptable, works as a community merecats? Yup, biology. The only game worth playing.

  • Acer–

    That was awesome. Please write more. Any post that includes the sentence, "The three Steel Reserve tall boys he drank before pissing represent Our Tax Dollars" is worth a Pullitzer Prize.

  • This may already have been covered, but you know there's a country where children are taught to love soccer for its beauty and flair and not worry too much about outcomes because that's left to adults? And so kids play soccer just for the love of touching the ball.

    It's called Brazil.

  • Xynzee,
    It may not be too early for a derail, so. . . .
    my thoughts on biological determinism are mixed.
    While I recognize the science, my personal experience
    differs – my own sexuality is strictly non-reproductive.

    Yet my husband and I do have two (adopted) sons, so perhaps
    my gene's drive to pass themselves on has gotten co-opted

  • Bubba- when has Ferdinand (and earlier, Roberto Carlos) been the best at anything? I always thought that, traditionally, the most tactically-gifted players played back to let the meatheads play up so they could see more of the field. Traditionally.

    I guess "suck" could be applied to Klose since he only shows up once every four years.

    I'm only checking this to see if my hero SN2 comes back with his thesaurus.

  • I meant to say that "best" is relative. The guy that plays for Inter got ass-raped by the unheralded Gareth Bale at White Hart Lane a couple weeks ago, he he was considered the "best defender in the world".

    You put the "best" players where they fit. Especially in Association Football. I could be wrong though and welcome any thoughts since I'm not nearly as schooled in Futbol as a lot of people.

  • Acer is so full of win, I just had to stop lurking and post a comment. Well played, Acer, well played!

    As far as where to position footballers, since scoring goals is difficult in most competitive leagues, you don't want to give up easy goals. Thus, you take the least risk by putting the least talented people up front and the most talented ones in back or, if they have enough stamina, at midfield, where they can contribute to both offense and defense.

    That way, if the lesser players get beaten by whoever they are marking, there are plenty of chances to recover instead of giving up a breakaway with no one but the keeper to beat. This is also why, the first time I ever played soccer, they put me at left wing!

    Of course, at the higher levels, everyone is talented, so it's just a matter of finding the right mix and if a player is really fast or has some other gift that makes for an edge, you need to find a way to take advantage of that to score.

    Also, Barry Rubin sounds like quite the douchenozzle. It's not complicated — unless the league is set up to be competitive, kids should get a chance to play, develop their skills and learn the rules and how to respect the game. If most teams are trying to mainly do that, but one dickhead coach in the league decides he wants to one-up Vince Lombardi, it probably won't be too hard to get some wins. It will be stupid and pointless, but not hard.

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