A letter to the parents of the losing soccer team
To the parents of the opposing team,
My sons' soccer team played your sons' soccer team today. It's a game that you might not want to remember, because the score was 12-0. The gap would have been wider, but our team's coach instructed our players to stop scoring. Possession was 90%-10% in our favor, and 90% of the match was played in your half of the pitch. To put it bluntly, it was a thrashing.
I'm not writing to you because I want to brag or gloat. I'm writing because I wanted to let you know that I empathize. You see, we've been in your shoes more often than we can count. We've lost many games. By a lot. We've gone an entire season without winning a single game. In fact, just the day before we beat you, we lost to another team, 7-1. To put it bluntly, we got thrashed.
We know that sinking feeling when we realize that even if our boys run their hearts out, no matter how well they play, they're just not going to beat the other team. We've sat on the sidelines and wondered how the heck the other team could possibly be so fast, so agile, so hungry, so good. We've seen the looks on our sons' faces as they go from wanting to win, to wanting to score just one goal, to wanting to avoid letting in yet another goal, to wanting the game to be over already. Our boys are more than familiar with those feelings of helplessness and resignation.
I'm writing because I want to tell you that we've been there, and we feel for you.
I want to say a few things:
I can't apologize for winning
I'm happy that my sons' team won. We're in a competitive league, they play to win, and the better team won. God knows, with all the losses they've had this season, they need a few wins.
We took no pleasure in winning that game
The parents on our team are soccer parents. We're also soccer fans. We're loud, passionate, and opinionated. But we're not mean people. We stopped cheering once we realized how mismatched the teams were, because truthfully it really isn't about winning or losing but about how the game was played. I would much rather have our team lose a game that was well-fought on both sides, than beat a team without having to try.
Your boys played honorably
Despite the goal difference, your players never stooped to cheating. They didn't dive, they didn't play dirty, and they didn't whine. I've seen teams do this and it is not nice.
You are awesome parents
You never stopped cheering for your kids. Not when it was 0-0. Not when it was 4-0. Not when it was 8-0, or 12-0. After the game, you formed a bridge and had your kids run through it, just as you would have if they had won.
You'll find your level
I'll be blunt: the players on your team will probably never play professional soccer. Or even college soccer. But you know what? Neither will my sons, nor any of the players on our team. We've played enough teams and seen enough really talented kids to know that. Some kids are just better at some things than other kids. That's why there are so many divisions in competitive youth soccer, not to mention non-competitive AYSO soccer. And I'm sure there are lots of teams out their that your sons' team could thrash, if they haven't already.
In this case, our kids just happen to be better soccer players. But that doesn't mean our kids are better human beings.
In the end, this is just one game, in just one season. It doesn't mean anything in the long run. Now go tell your kids to put this game behind them and keep on playing like the awesome human beings that they are.
PS: Please remind me to send this letter to myself the next time our team gets thrashed!