MiamiHerald / This Father’s Day I want to sing the praises of soccer dads. I am one. My daughter, Sophie, started playing youth soccer 14 years ago, when she was 4 years old and roughly the same height as the more mature dandelions on the field. Back then my primary responsibility as a soccer dad was to stand on the sideline with the other parents and shout “Sophie, kick the ball!” several hundred times per game.

Not that it helped. Sophie went two solid years without ever kicking the ball. You think I’m exaggerating, but I am not. Sophie has always been a cautious, meticulous person; she hates to do the wrong thing. Even at age 4, she was afraid that, if she kicked the ball, she might kick it in the wrong direction (not that there really is a “wrong direction” in 4-year-old soccer). Sophie’s strategy back then was to hover near the ball, frowning at it with concern, but to leave the actual, physical kicking of the ball up to the other players.

As years passed, Sophie’s soccer skills greatly improved, and my role shifted from shouting “Kick the ball!” to shouting “Offside!” Offside is a rules infraction in soccer that nobody truly understands. We parents like to shout it from time to time to indicate to the referee that we are on top of things.

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