Tag Archives: children

No Mercy!

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no-mercy

I’m reffing yet another game at yet another summer tournament. One U11 team is clearly superior to their opponent and the score quickly becomes one-sided. Yet the entire coaching staff of the leading team, led on by their head coach, repeatedly yells out “No Mercy!” after every goal they score. In what would eventually be a 15-2 beating these outbursts got old really quick. From what I could tell this behavior started with the head coach. He was the first to start yelling out “No Mercy!” and was quickly followed by his assistant coaches, who were then followed by the players on the bench. Everyone on the dominating team was thoroughly enjoying their epic victory.

Maybe my years as an official help me maintain a level of cool when I’m on the sidelines coaching, but that isn’t the core reason. If I behaved like a child during a youth game my dad would pull me out of the game and park my behind on the bench. He was acting like an adult while the coaches in my summer tournament game were acting like children. Winning wasn’t enough for these thirty to forty-five year old men. They needed to humiliate their opponent while on the road to victory.

After hearing all I cared to hear during the first half I told the head coach at halftime that the next time I heard “No Mercy!” I would issue a conduct foul on his team. He seemed perplexed when I gave him my ultimatum, but I was even more perplexed. I was struggling to understand why I, a twenty-five year old, had to explain to a forty-five year old that screaming “No Mercy!” when their team is up by ten goals is distasteful in a game with eight, nine and ten year olds.

It has been my experience that kids naturally gloat over one another. Most of the time it is good-natured ribbing, but sometimes an adult needs to step in and explain to the kids involved that there is a line that should not be crossed when you are the better player or on the better team. Kids need to learn that how you win is far more important that just winning. Mariano Rivera is finishing his last season with the Yankees. He has been a dominate closer for his entire career, and he wins with class. A-Rod, on the other hand, is a very accomplished baseball player but is now forever tarnished by PED usage. Both are winners, but Mo is the one who will be remembered fondly.

I can’t stand adult coaches acting like children in youth games. I am constantly amazed that the parents of these players even stick with the program when this behavior is evident, but their team is winning so what is the harm really? The harm is that when these kids get to high school I repeatedly send them to the box for unsportsmanlike behavior. They never learned to win with class as youngsters and they bring an overinflated view of themselves into high school ball.

If you’re unfamiliar with the featured image above go watch the original Karate Kid. You can yell “No Mercy” all you want, but eventually someone is going to out work you while you were spending all your time coming up with new insults.

Bow To Your Sensei!
Gordon

Sweating and Smiling

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How does the staff at Atlanta Youth Lacrosse judge a successful day of games? Simple – if the kids leave our fields sweating and smiling we’ve had a great day.

I was speaking to my dad, Lou Corsetti, this past evening about how the 2012 Fall Ball season was wrapping up at AYL. We agreed that, from our perspective, each kid we see after a game is sweating, smiling and seems to be loving life because they are playing a sport they enjoy. That is our measuring stick when determining if a particular day or season is successful. We are a child-centric, as opposed to an adult-centric league. Here are the differences:

Adult-Centric

  • Focused on score
  • Finding a championship team
  • Keeping detailed statistics and reporting them to the masses
  • Interested solely in determining “the best” player(s) or team

Child-Centric

  • As much equal play time as possible
  • Interested in the concepts of teamwork and perseverance
  • Working with new and inexperienced players to improve their skill

It seems like I am bashing all adults with this comparison. That is not the case. I am highlighting the stark differences between the wants of adults and the wants of children. Adults want a winner, kids want close competition. Adults want to separate the “best” from the “rest,” while kids want a mix of all abilities. Adults need detailed statistics to determine “the best,” but kids can tell just by watching who is better than others. Simply put, the wants of adults are considerably different from the wants of children when it comes to sports.

Here is an interesting observation that I have noticed over years in youth lacrosse: Even if they lose, as long as they got in the game the youth players have a great time. On the flip side, some (not all) parents do not seem pleased if their child’s team loses a game. Despite their child’s happy, smiling face over a hard game well played, the adults have difficulty sharing in their child’s exuberance. Why is this? It could be that adults are¬†inundated with the benefits of winning and not the benefits of competing.

I think that kids naturally want to compete. They play tag to see who is going to be “it.” They start a pickup hockey game in the street and keep score. They play kickball and know who is the “best” kicker out of all their friends. Kids like competition, but once winning and losing become more important than the competition itself they start losing a little bit of their childhood idealism. Is winning great for professional athletes? Absolutely. Winning often comes with bonuses, trips to the playoffs, awards, and star recognition. Is winning great for youth players? I do not believe it is the end-all-be-all. What do the kids get after a win? They feel really good and proud for a few hours and then they’re worried about who is going to host the next sleep over.

Youth players care about winning. They often know the score more accurately than the adults. But they are not consumed by winning the same way adults can be. As long as they sweat on the field they will come off it smiling. Which is why we at AYL judge our days and our seasons by those two metrics.

Cheers,
Gordon

Gamer Confessions Part 1 of 3

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Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat

Ever since Mortal Kombat came out in the early nineties controversy has grown around video games. Many of the early arguments against video games contended that these games glorified violence and desensitized young children to graphic images. These days video game opponents argue that games increase the risk of depression, agression, and addiction in young kids. As a former gamer I am going to address each of these issues in light of my own gaming experiences in a three part series. Part one will detail my own history of gaming to the present day. Part two will focus on my observations of the available games today. Finally, Part three will delve deep into the benefits of video games and the valid concerns. I hope that this series will educate parents and children alike in what video games are all about and how to “game responsibly.”

Part One – The Personal Gaming History of Gordon Corsetti

The earliest game I remember playing is the original Mario on my most prized possession – the original Nintendo. I never beat Mario but I could never resist how much fun the game was. Smash the little mushrooms, dodge the ducks, defeat the giant turtle, and rescue the princess. I was a hero in sixteen pixels. Eventually I graduated to Paperboy and Duck Hunt. These two games required far greater timing than Mario and consequently took up more of my time to master. I will say with pride that I defeated the Paperboy game in impressive fashion but my experience with Duck Hunt was not as awesome. Try as I could I just never was very good at shooting the ducks unless I was six inches away from the screen. Each Nintendo game I played was mostly a distraction. I could burn thirty minutes to an hour engaged in my personal fantasy world after school then I would go play with my friends. It was not until I dived into the world of the RPG that I lost control.

A Role Playing Game, or RPG, is a game “in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting” (Wikipedia). Taking this concept a bit further for the non-gamers in the crowd, imagine The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Now imagine that you are actually Frodo and you must personally destroy the ring in the fires of Mordor. That is the allure of the RPG. A player actually takes on the responsibilities of the lead character/characters in this type of game. My first experience in this fantasy was with an ironically titled game Final Fantasy 8.

In the interest of full disclosure, Final Fantasy 8 was my world for over a year. I thought about this game daily, pined for it during classes, and played it until my eye lids were too heavy to keep open. As far as I was concerned my mission in life was to beat that RPG. Looking back I had an actual addiction to Final Fantasy 8 but I was not old enough to realize it. What, you don’t believe me? What if I told you that I have empirical evidence of this addiction?

I played this game eight different times from the very beginning. This fact cannot be denied as I have the memory card to prove it. What I find scary now is how much I played this game according to the memory card. The first two times I played for a total of forty hours. The third and fourth combined for a total of sixty hours. The fifth and sixth equaled eighty hours. The seventh time I tried to play this game and beat it I spent seventy hours on it from start to almost finish. I say almost finish because the Playstation shorted out and fried the system. I was so furious that I did not play for about a week. Then the bug hit me and I dedicated myself to beating that game once and for all. Game number eight took a total of eighty hours to finish. Now (40+60+80+70+80 = 330 hours). 330 hours equals almost fourteen days of gaming on one game! That means I spent nearly two weeks attempting to beat a game that had no real bearing on any aspect of my life, but in reality it impacted every aspect.

Once I beat Final Fantasy 8 I had no real games to play until the Playstation 2. Oh what a glorious machine that was! The image quality on that piece of technology equaled the beauty and power of the Ark of the Covenant. I was hooked instantly. It would take far too much time to detail how many games I played on the PS2, Xbox 360, Gameboy, and my desktop so I will list them here:

  1. Final Fantasy 10 – 120 hours
  2. SOCOM – 60 hours
  3. SOCOM 2 – 40 hours
  4. Final Fantasy X2 – 80 hours
  5. Starcraft Brood War – 200-300 hour range over three years
  6. Diablo 2 – 150-200 hour range over three years
  7. Sonic the Hedgehog – 30 hours
  8. God of War 1 and 2 – 40 hours combined
  9. The Sims – 30 hours
  10. Sim City – 40-50 hours
  11. Okami – 50 hours
  12. Splinter Cell 2 – 20 hours
  13. Splinter Cell 3 – 30 hours
  14. Splinter Cell 4 – 40 hours
  15. Assassin’s Creed 1 – 20 hours
  16. Assassin’s Creed 2 – 30 hours
  17. Final Fantasy 12 – 60 hours
  18. Pokemon Red and Yellow – 60 hours combined
  19. Madden Football – 40 hours
  20. Grand Theft Auto 3 – 50 hours
  21. Medal of Honor 2 – 20 hours
  22. Tomba 1 – 20 hours
  23. Tomba 2 – 40 hours
  24. Final Fantasy 8 – 330 hours total
  25. Guitar Hero – 40 hours
  26. Halo 1 – 20 hours
  27. Halo 2 – 30 hours

All of the hours listed are conservative numbers but they give an decent range of total time playing games. When added together these numbers equal a whopping 1,850 hours! That turns into just over seventy-seven days of total gaming with conservative numbers. These numbers do not reflect time thinking about the games, strategizing in my off time, or daydreaming in class. So tack on another twenty days to reflect the times I was thinking about gaming and you have almost 100 days of gaming over a ten year period. That may not sound like a lot but imagine what I could have done on a lacrosse field and in school if I had those 100 days back to practice and study.

To be completely honest I am disappointed in myself, but I did not have the knowledge about what games can do to a young kid and neither did my parents. They saw their kid playing sports and hanging out with other kids so me playing games occasionally did not seem like that big of a deal. That lack of knowledge cost me 100 days.

I hope that disclosing my personal gaming history will open the eyes of parents and players alike. While it may seem that I am showing video games in a negative light I am not. I am just chronicling my own experiences and my own experiences with games took a decidedly negative slant because I was not educated to game properly. Because video games are part of the culture of young kids parents cannot ban them from the house entirely, lest your child become a social pariah because he cannot talk about the newest Wii game. To further educate parents and players, Part Two will focus on my take on the current gaming culture and how young kids can game without losing out on the world around them as I did.

Featured Image Credit – www.destructoid.com

Cheers,
Gordon