Gummi Bears, grass tufts, and goals

In this culture of sound bites, football season is particularly grueling. Teams used to shower and go home after the clock ran out. But nowadays the post-game press conference is routine. Every weekend, players and coaches march onto podiums all over the country to be interrogated by legions of aggressive reporters in search of quips, wisecracks, or other useful quotes.

The questions are numbingly predictable. "What happened out there?" is a familiar line of inquiry, along with, "What should you have done differently?" And the inevitable, "How do you feel right now?"

With new TV channels popping up daily, the demand for useless information will only increase.

As the coach of a fifth-grade girls' soccer team, I can foresee the day when even this level of athletic activity will merit coverage on ESPN or CNN/SI. Here's a brief sample of what the audience can expect.

REPORTER No. 1: Coach, your team looked out of sync. Any comment?

ME: They always look that way. They're 10-year-olds.

REPORTER No. 2: Angela seemed tired. Is she hurt?

ME: No, but sometimes she gets distracted and pushes tufts of old grass into little piles with her feet.

REPORTER No. 3: How does that make you feel?

ME: Well, it's frustrating, but I'm used to it.

REPORTER No. 3: And why does she do that?

ME: Because she can.

REPORTER No. 4: How come Clarissa was crying after she scored a goal?

ME: She thought her favorite scrunchy was lost.

REPORTER No. 4: What's a scrunchy?

ME: It's that elastic fabric thing girls use to keep their hair in a bun.

REPORTER No. 5: What was special about it?

ME: It's a Hello Kitty scrunchy she got in Japan. Luckily her mom was holding it the whole time.

REPORTER No. 6: Wasn't there some other problem with that mom? You two were having an argument after the game.

ME: Not an argument. I thought her choice of Gummi Bears for the post-game snack was peculiar.

REPORTER No. 7: Peculiar in what way?

ME: Well, Gummi Bears are candy. I think granola bars are more of a snacky item.

REPORTER No. 8: So when you found out she brought Gummi Bears, how did that make you feel?

ME: I should be more explicit with parents about these matters. Does that count as a feeling?

REPORTER No. 9: Do you think your team's future performance will be affected by the snack controversy? And when the girls actually saw the Gummi Bears, what went through their minds?

No, it's not a good scenario. I have enough trouble just getting 17 girls to pay attention during practice. Explaining the details to a roomful of armchair critics would be way out of my league.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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