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Caught In The Intensity Web and Experiencing "Tunnel Vision" On the Soccer Sidelines

Perfectly Executed Offside Trap Or Perfect Through Ball?

Several minutes later, the blue team's defense clears the ball to midfield, where a midfielder traps the ball and heads towards goal. Dribbling the ball into the red team's offensive third, she sees a striker streaking down the left side completely unmarked. As she is about to send a through ball for the wing to run under, a red team defender steps up field hoping to create an offside trap. But the offside flag of the assistant referee stays down.

The non-call creates a break away. Only the red team goalkeeper stands between the blue team striker and goal. Drawing the goalie off her line, the striker drives a hard shot just under the crossbar into the back of the net. Goal! The referee signals a goal for the blue team and the blue team parents begin to chant, "Ole, Ole," in celebration of the goal and their Mexican heritage

Caught In The Intensity Web

The goal sends the red team parents straight into the sticky clutches of the "intensity web." Their girls have worked hard but have given up a goal. They feel the officials have missed several calls and, to make matters worse, the obnoxious parents from the blue team are taunting them by singing their celebration song.

The stage is set for bad things could happen. One of the red team parents is tempted to charge over to confront the assistant referee for failing to call the wing offside. Another parent wants to scream at the blue parents that they have no class. The red team parents are frustrated; they are a ticking time bomb seconds away from exploding. They are beginning to experience what I call "tunnel vision".

Tunnel Vision

Tunnel vision is the state where a parent loses his or her ability to see the whole picture of the youth sports contest they are watching. Instead of being able to think about different alternatives for handling a situation based upon experience and good judgment, the parent starts to think there are only a few ways to respond the intensity of the moment. Tunnel vision often causes parents to take a difficult situation personally and believe they have to respond forcefully to defend their honor, or the honor of their team or family.

Tunnel vision is so dangerous because it limits a person's range of options and makes the parent blind to the rest. Often times, under extreme pressure, a parent will respond with violent, or at least verbally abusive, behavior. The person loses the ability to think clearly and often will take action that he or she would normally not dream of doing.