Soccer, the World Cup and the wrong kinds of lessons

So I thought the World Cup, like the Olympics in February, could be a great teaching moment for my kids. We could talk about geography, sportsmanship and athleticism, all while cheering on the U.S. National Team.

Nothing but good, wholesome family fun, particularly for my 7-year-old, who is passionate about her futbol. It’s not often that her sport of choice gets this much attention in the United States, so I was ready to let her soak it up.

Um, can I get a do-over?

First, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the best players in the world, shed his uniform to appear on the cover of Spanish Vogue with his lovely partner Irina Shayk.


Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo takes a water break during a game against the U.S. (REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Mr. Ronaldo, you are a phenomenal athlete and a handsome man. But my daughter would call that picture “inappropriate.”

Then another soccer star, one not playing in the World Cup this year, was arrested for domestic violence assault. Hope Solo, a goalkeeper for the U.S. women’s National Team, pleaded not guilty to the charges related to an incident involving her nephew and half-sister Saturday morning in suburban Seattle.


U.S. women’s soccer team goalkeeper Hope Solo appears in court in connection with her domestic violence arrest at her sister’s home in Kirkland, Wash. (AP Photo/Pool, The Seattle Times, Mike Siegel)

So there’s that.

Then, of course, Uruguayan star Luis Suarez was charged with biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini in a game Tuesday. Yes, I said biting. Because apparently Suarez missed that key lesson in toddler school about, you know, not biting people.


Uruguay’s Luis Suarez (R) reacts after clashing with Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini. (Reuters/Tony Gentile)

This is the third time Suarez has apparently bitten an opponent during a game. That’s not a defensive strategy I would want to encourage in my Under-8 girls player.

The World Cup, and soccer stars, are becoming a teachable moment in a different way: How not to conduct yourself. I never dreamed I would be telling my elementary-school aged children not to emulate adults on the field who are biting people, but here we are. I’m pretty sure they had that down before their second birthdays, but we’re revisiting it, just in case.

We took a break from our usual diet of  talking about not showing off or bragging, and letting your actions on the field speak for you to talk about Mr. Suarez. Those actions should never involve leaving teethmarks. A speech met with predictable eye-rolling from the tween set in the house.

Paging Julia Mancuso and Alex Bilodeau. Stat.

Mari-Jane Williams covers parenting and family issues for Local Living and schools for the Prince William and Loudoun Extras.
SECTION: {section=lifestyle/on-parenting, subsection=null}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: !!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Comments
SECTION: {section=lifestyle/on-parenting, subsection=null}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: !!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Show Comments
Most Read
Next Story
Amy Joyce · June 25