Confession No. 121 – Woe is me. Pee-wee soccer is upon us … again.

I’ve spun many a yarn over the years and have done a pretty darn good job of sugar coating the bad parts. But even the best storytellers in the world don’t own enough fib to beat around the bush about organized youth sports.

Spin it any way you wish. There aren’t enough positives to outweigh the negatives of showing up at a soccer field — with your outfitted six-year-old — on a damp Saturday morning. But that’s exactly what I’ll be doing within the next few weeks.

As for the trophies for everyone? Shame on us! Learning how to lose is of vital importance.

Yes, I’m damned. My lovely wife has signed up our boy for soccer. She says he ‘needs to run off some of his unspent energy.’ I say ‘that’s a bunch of hogwash.’

Now, before you write me off as a disgruntled moaner, just hear me out. I’ve been there – on the sidelines and dugouts – with three children. I’ve shopped for an overpriced orange-hued adjustable baseball belt just an hour before the first pitch; oiled plenty of stiff gloves; and spent hours explaining to my child why the $300 neon green Viper Killer XS is not a good ‘investment’ for a first-year fast-pitch player. And those memories actually hold a special place for me.

But there are still plenty of youth sports-related memories that raise my blood pressure.

Agony of defeat? What defeat?
I managed as a child to end up on mediocre teams. Back then, we didn’t receive trophies for coming in third, which is why I have only three such mementos from my childhood. Admittedly, one was for a plant I grew, while another one was for winning the Pinewood Derby.

So, what the hell happened?

We’ve made some improvements over time on how to raise children, but this is one that my generation screwed up. We give awards for everything. The last place team receives the same trophy as the undefeated champions. In the mean time, we pretend that we aren’t even keeping score. To all of that, I say bullhockey!

Though the scoreboard might not be operational during the game, I’m fairly certain the cigarette-puffing mom sitting in her oversized chair along the first base line has made her son – and everyone else – very aware of how he was swinging too late. Furthermore, how many parents on the ride home look to the back seat and proclaim that their team ‘really won’ the game?

As for the trophies for everyone? Shame on us! Learning how to lose is of vital importance. Fact is, we compete in life — for attention, employment, a spouse, on the interstate highways … even in our neighborhoods, where we want our lawn to look better than the Jones’.

The folly of the V
V – as in vicarious. You know, the parents who truly believe and expect little 8-year-old Timmy to be the reincarnation of Sandy Koufax, Tony Dorsett or Pele. Funny thing is, most of these parents – the few who even played sports – never advanced beyond being the water boy. Yeah, those people exist on the sidelines of every field and in the stands behind every diamond. And they’re disgusting fools.

According to the NCAA, about 0.6 percent of all high school baseball players become pros later in life. Of the 1.1 million high school football players who will take the field later this year, about 250 will ever be drafted by a professional team. And basketball? Forget about it! Of the half-million on the high school hard court right now, about 45 will eventually be drafted as pros. (P.S. – Getting drafted means they still have to make the team.)

The real problem with these parents – other than they irritate the hell out of me with the ‘Joey’s Mom’ stamped on the back of their T-shirts – is what they are doing to their children. I’m all for expecting excellence from my offspring, but to put such pressure on a child is a crime. It’s a city soccer league, for crying out loud.

Sorry, Ma and Pa Kettle. Try encouraging your child to stay in school and take advanced courses. He still might be able to support you in a few years — which is what you really want, right? Whatever happens, hopefully he won’t turn out to be like you.

Come to think of it, there is one positive about organized youth sports — the pizza party to celebrate the end of the season.

Want to receive notifications of my Confessions in your email? Just click here. I’d also love for you to join me on Facebook (click the ‘like’ button), Pinterest and Google+. — Special thanks to Megan E. ‘What about Dad and Uncle Tom?’ Hawkins at The Underground Writer  for editing this piece.

There are many recipes and techniques out there for Limoncello. The ingredients are pretty much the same in every cookbook — Lemon peels, vodka, sugar and water. Unfortunately, the maceration process is essentially skipped in most of those recipes. The Limoncello that takes several weeks to produce is going to develop much deeper flavors than the quick versions. You get only one chance with fresh in-season Meyer Lemons, so take your time. I’ll be worth it.

Meyer Lemon Limoncello

blah blah blah

Meyer Lemon Limoncello. Take your time. It’ll be worth it next summer.

750 ml – Good quality vodka
Rind (no pith) from 10 Meyer Lemons (or standard lemons)

2½ cups – White sugar
3½ cups – Filtered (bottled) water

Step 1 – Carefully peel lemons. If you don’t have a peeler capable of removing the rind without the white pith, use a microplane.

Step 2 – Place lemon rind in a jar sufficiently large enough to hold listed ingredients. Pour vodka over rinds; close jar; and keep in a dark place (such as a cabinet, pantry, etc.) for about 4 weeks. This is known as maceration, or steeping.

Step 3 – In a saucepan, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes, making sure that the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool. When sugar/water reaches room temperature, add to vodka mixture. Taste for sweetness as you add the sugar/water. You might prefer the mixture to be a little less sweet than this recipe. Seal jar; allow mixture to sit for an additional week.

Step 4 – Strain mixture into bottle(s); seal and allow to sit for another week. Strain again, if desired.

Store in freezer.


  1. Looks like you may need some of that Lemoncello during the upcoming soccer meets. To deal with the parents. Good grief!

    My angst is with the parents who do their kids’ reports and projects for them. You know the ones – the 3rd grade kid comes in with a report – that HE supposedly wrote – that is typed and contains SEMICOLONS. Or the project that has electricity and sound – but she “did it all by herself.” (Pass me some of that Lemoncello, will ya? My daughter has a science fair coming up.)

    • adamjholland says:

      Agreed, Megan. But you know what the sad thing is nowadays? There are too many parents whose work is on par with their third-grader.

      • So true. Yesterday I brought my daughter to the pediatrician. As we were in the waiting room, a father was reading to his daughter. He was pointing to pictures in the book and saying, “what dat?” and “who dat?” What does this mean? The little girl will start saying, “who dat?” and “What dat?

        Granted. We live in NY. But STILL!

  2. I made some limoncello last year, and used it this week when making chicken Marsala…in place of the wine I did not have…..this is now my new favorite chicken dish. It was indescribably good. And all inspired by Mauricio’s description of Limoncello in the movie “Under The Tuscan Sun”. With his big Italian accent, he made it so sexy I had to have some limoncello.

    You are spot on about youth sports. We now award children, and adults, for mediocrity. Why then should they strive for excellence when they get a trophy, or an employee award, for doing less than they are capable of?

    • adamjholland says:

      I do hope you are planning to post the Marsala Limoncello dish over in your neck of the woods. I’ve not seen the movie, but I do remember Poppy from Seinfeld. ‘Poppy make-a you something very special.’ 😉

  3. There are many things that I regret missing out on where my kids are concerned, but organized sports is NOT one of them. That being said, I was told that both of them were active in Little League, and I’m willing to wager that their father and step-monster were perfect examples of those pathetic sideline parents. My ex chose computers and Dungeons and Dragons over sports

    • adamjholland says:

      Wow! D&D.. Now, that’s a blast from the past! Those guys were sort of like today’s online gamers — it was a lifestyle. Confession: I played Dungeons & Dragons in 8th grade. — As for those parents… I will be speaking up this time around. I’m most certain that there’ll be more essays here about it. 😉

  4. Well there you are, I found you! I felt like the kid who came home only to find that his parents had moved away without her. Having coached T ball & soccer I can tell you that we’re on the same page regarding both the sideline parents & the trophy for everyone. At the first awards ceremony that I attended I admit to being puzzled by the mass of trophies on the table. I’ve yet to hear any parent say that they like the idea of giving a trophy to every kid who shows up – heck, even the ones who didn’t show up got trophies. As for the parents, most of mine were great but there were those who thought I was their kid’s Saturday babysitter. One day I ended up with a kid dropped off on my lawn because the game was called off due to rain. It seems to me, that the young kids coming into the workforce now think that they should get a trophy or a gold star on their heads for just showing up. Teachers and parents have been making excuses for them for years so why should they think differently?
    I wish I’d had some of that Limoncello for when I was coaching – looks pretty darn good to me.

    • adamjholland says:

      Howdy Diane. Glad you stopped by, because I was starting to feel like history was repeating itself: I become good friends with someone, then tick them off, and.. Well, anyway, I’m glad to see you! — You hit the nail on the head. I really discovered this when I was a newspaper editor and every kid who came in fresh from college wanted only to write feature stories. I’d let them know that they first needed to learn how to write. (And I meant it.)

      • Adam, we need to talk…lol – sent chills up & down your spine didn’t I?
        Now tell me, were those fresh from college kids also the ones who came in after 1 month to ask you for a raise – not because of their outstanding contributions but because they “didn’t realize how expensive rent and food was”? I got that from one and was glad that when I turned her down she decided to find other employment opportunities.

        • adamjholland says:

          They asked, but not because food and rent were expensive (many of them were still receiving checks from Mom & Dad), but because they felt entitled. Piss ants.

  5. YES!!! I could not agree more. It is stupid beyond stupid.

  6. Adam! I must have missed the memo about you moving domains? Glad I’ve found you again. Limoncello is something I can make in our stupid summer heat, hurrah! (I know, I shouldn’t complain while the polar vortex is still fresh in people’s memory, but…)


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