Monday, September 24, 2012

Schadenfreude

Schadenfreude:  Glee at another's misfortune.

There is something about the vigilante that we seem to like in our fiction.  From Batman to Kill Bill to those Dixie Chicks' women who make wife-beating Earl a missing person no one misses, we like to see bad guys get their due, especially from those on the receiving end of their rotten behavior.

In the real world, the sane among us are not out seeking actual vigilante justice and would be awfully frightened if others were.  We do, however, love to see someone get his comeuppance.  I get particular joy when some self-righteous politician is caught engaging in the very behavior he (and it usually is a he) has been expounding as evil (infidelity and homosexuality among some of the most recent cases).  I confess that I also don't mind when something inconvenient befalls the jerks of the world.  I'd never wish injury, illness, grief or other actual pain and suffering upon anyone, but I admit to a little schadenfreude when things don't always go the way of certain people.

I like to think of it as an Inverse Golden Rule:  if you treat others badly, you deserve a little bad treatment of your own.  Or if you prefer, what goes around comes around.  Or karma's a bitch.

You might be with me so far, but here's where I begin to show my dark side. That whole Inverse Golden Rule thing?  Well, I'm finding it applies girls' U6 soccer, at least in my gut.  Yes, that's right.  Soccer for 4- to 6-year-old girls.

I firmly believe that good sportsmanship--by child athletes and their parents--is crucial and more important than winning.  I would never berate a child or coach from the sidelines and cringe at those who do.  I would never encourage my child to hurt another child or cheat.  (If you're going to cheat, why bother?)  However, when other kids show poor sportsmanship, some vestige of my caveman brain cheers when they get their comeuppance.

Take The Shover, the otherwise cute and enthusiastic little girl who used her hands and elbows to aggressively shove other little girls out of her way (and to pick up and move the ball to better field position, but that's another matter).  At first, I tried to give her some leeway--she's young, she's new, she's just being aggressive.  But after about the fifteenth shove, warnings from both coaches, my daughter's mid-play pause to tell her to stop shoving (I couldn't hear the words, but it looked like a five-year-old version of "WTF?!?"), and a notable absence of anything but an enthusiastic "great job!" from her dad, I'd had enough of The Shover.  When the goofy little girl on our team, who'd spent most of the game lying in the goal or trying to climb the coach like a jungle gym, went all ballistic on The Shover after being on the receiving end of a particularly aggressive shove, I admit that I quietly cheered.  No one got hurt, but that little girl tried to make The Shover realize that she was in the wrong in a way that the coaches' gentle admonitions were not able to do.  And I was pleased.

I've already admitted I'm evil, so I'll go one more and confess that I also really didn't mind when The Ball Hog, who constantly steals the ball from her own teammates, tripped.

So there you have it.  Reason #37 that I am going to hell, schadenfreude toward kindergartners.  Someone tell me I won't be there alone?



11 comments:

  1. You are not alone -- And I am very happy that Emma only did soccer for one year. Not much -- actually pretty much -- no parent involvement in dance classes and performances (I know there is on Dance Moms -- but that is SO not our experience). Oh, but wait -- there is "The I Know I am the Best Dancer" who once or twice fell at a performance and I definitely felt Schadenfreude.

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    1. Beth, I am so pleased that this translates beyond team sports. I love "I Know I Am the Best Dancer." What other awful kids are out there beyond her, The Shover and The Ball Hog? Weigh in, parents.

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  2. I whisper scary comments to the psycho kids who do mean things to my son. I'll tell you some when we are reading by the pool in hell.

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    1. Actually, I better qualify lest I seem more evil than Cynthia. A boy once told my allergic son he was going to give him peanut M&Ms to see what happened. When I dropped him off at his house I told the child, "Be careful crossing the street. All the time. Particularly if you see my car coming." yup, just a wee bit evil ;)

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    2. I will save you a seat with an umbrella because you're going to need it. Fantastic.

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    3. Please save me a seat, too. I'll bring beer.

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  3. Just wait till you get to U9 girls (if you do).

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  4. Hmm, so if I congratulated Matthew after his U11 game for his hard work, good play, and, oh yeah, taking out the kid with a blatant late tackle that came nowhere near the ball but left the other kid on the ground -- the other kid who was part of the team whose coach kept pressing them on to score more, even when the score as 18-0 This was soccer mind you, not football.

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    1. Oh yes, Michael. You are one of us. Delighting in punishing the player for a coach's poor judgment? We might make you leader of our Bad Parents in Hell club.

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