When my son decided to stop playing soccer in fourth grade in favor of football, I was disappointed. I grew up playing both sports and found the subtle approach of the Norwegian dad who oversaw our soccer team preferable to the in-your-face barking of our football coaches.
I loved the soccer routine, complete with the sideline socializing over coffee on Saturday mornings and seeing the kids become more confident as their skills developed. But it always bugged me that the team rarely strayed from a hierarchy with the fastest, most athletic kid at the top. Everybody else fed him the ball and congratulated him after he scored. The offense was seldom organized to use him as a decoy to involve the other kids in not only the scoring, but the strategy.
Football's mantra is that the team always comes before the individual. But within that team structure comes opportunities for kids with different talents to excel and be recognized. Coaches teach kids about defensive containment, where an end's job isn't always to make the tackle, but often just to turn the running back inside.
When you watch a youth football game from the sidelines, the positions of quarterback, receiver and running back that traditionally dominate televised NFL games are diminished, and you'll hear coaches become ecstatic over a key block thrown by a guard or a defensive tackle plugging a running lane.
The result is that competitive teams are full of stars, kids who will be recognized loudly by their coaches and parents and who will leave the field with huge grins, even if they never even touch the ball.