Davis (left) shown seconds before losing most of his right ear to Williams (right), in a bloody culmination of a bitter rivalry that had extended over several seasons.
Photo: susieq3c, flickr.
TORONTO—Given the wild cheering and general mayhem occurring on soccer fields across the city, you’d think the World Cup had come to Toronto. But it hasn’t. It’s just groups of tots doing their best to connect with the ball as part of Timbits Soccer.
“I live across the street from a middle school and four nights a week I have to listen to those insane parents carrying on as if their five-year-old has won a gold medal,” said East York resident Jane Radley. “Really, all the brat did was walk past the goalie, who had his finger up his nose and was playing with ants. This is why kids are soft today.”
As part of the Minor Sports Program sponsored by fast food giant Tim Hortons, the soccer leagues provide tykes with a jersey or tee shirt and receive community idolatry in return.
“We sponsor over 200,000 kids in this program across Canada and in the United States,” said Tim Hortons head of Public Relations, Tom Healy. “It’s meant to promote sports and friendship, not competition. I’ve noticed that sometimes the parents can get a bit…aggressive. And the World Cup didn’t seem to help.”
Fathers who once lolled on the sidelines in cargo shorts and plaid shirts are now showing up in jackets and ties. Sidelined siblings are adorned with towering hats in team colors and mothers give rousing pep talks while handing out cut-up oranges.
“In ten years of driving an ice cream truck and hawking popsicles to this crowd, I’ve never seen it like this,” said Dairy Belle franchise owner Bob Guest. “I get asked at least twice a night whether I sell beer. And the other day, I saw a kid try to rip off his shirt after scoring a goal. Poor little bugger got stuck and ran right into his teammate.”
With World Cup matches recently broadcast from Brazil, players and parents seem to be emulating the pros. Tighter jerseys and unique hairstyles are de rigueur. And lobbying for penalties has become commonplace.
Said volunteer referee Scott Tip, “There was a biting incident the other day. I think it was just kids being kids, but the parent insisted his kid had been ‘Suarezed’.”