My second-grade daughter had her first soccer game of the spring scheduled last week. It was raining, making the 50-degree temperature seem like a pretty uncomfortable prospect for us spectators. But I was excited for her. What kid doesn’t love to be given complete freedom to play in the rain and mud?
“Any chance they’ll call the game off?” asked the grandparents.
“Not a chance,” I replied, without a second thought. There was no lightning. The downpour wasn’t all that thick. It never dawned on me to check for any e-mail from the coach before heading to the field, or calling a teammate’s parent.
Guess who the consensus fool was when we showed up to an empty field 10 minutes later. I was shocked that the soccer games were postponed that morning. Should I have been?
I decided to play grumpy old man the rest of the morning. Proudly, I told my daughter of a particularly good cross country race I ran in high school under similar conditions. I explained how our 7th-grade football coach lined us up on the 40-yard line for a sprint-and-dive to the puddled goal line prior to our last game of the year. It was a reminder to us that the weather is fun if you see it as fun, that we weren’t going to grouse about the weather and make excuses, and that a little rain (or even a lot of rain) is a lot more fun than being stuck inside.
Later that afternoon, with the rain gone and the sun now shining, we were inside the house watching TV. (It was the first men’s national semifinal basketball game between Michigan State and Butler, so forgive us.) At halftime, while chatting away during his H-O-R-S-E victory over broadcaster and former college standout Clark Kellogg, President Obama also played grumpy old man, lamenting how today’s kids spend too much time indoors.
Whether my approach to handling the situation was appropriate is a matter of preference, I suppose. Whether it was successful is very doubtful. Maybe the fields were in more dangerous shape than I noticed. Maybe the forecast was for worse weather before we got better conditions (though that is not what happened). Maybe there was a threat of lightning. I recognize it’s a litigious world out there, fraught with liabilities. But for all the talk of adults meddling in youth sports, calling off games or practices and discouraging our kids from going outside to play in only moderately poor weather is too common of an offense. How we view the weather should be an important consideration for parents, coaches, and organizers.
We send a powerful message when we keep kids indoors instead of taking the chance that they might catch a cold or bring home a washerful of mud. We punctuate that message when we whine about the weather and don’t enjoy the downpour ourselves. They think rain is something to avoid, and it’s just another place where fear overrules common sense. Kids start to think perfect weather is a requirement to go outdoors. It’s just another road block to encouraging physical activity.
I was shocked that the soccer games were postponed that morning. Should I have been?