OPINION: Riverfront Park's soccer mayhem
If you're driving eastbound over the 10th Street Bridge on a Saturday morning, you can see soccer mayhem below.
It's a sea of colored uniforms, little guys and gals stomping along 22 fields at Marysville's Riverfront Park, or, more specifically, the Wheeler Auto Soccer Complex.
Regardless of your thoughts on the game itself, the sport these kids play is at its purest of forms.
Soccer is one of the cheapest sports in the world to play — but at this level, in America, the role the parents play comes at a price.
Forget about parking. It's all over the place.
Two options: Take your chances along the brush, tucked tight outside of the park, making for a longer walk in heat that not even the kids want to play in, or suck it up and pay the $5 to get a parking space closer to little Johnny's field.
Hundreds and hundreds of families weave around the snack shack, dragging their oversized lawn umbrellas and canvas bags banked with bottled waters and more in Radio Flyer wagons.
Sometimes it takes a while to find the field little Johnny or Emily is playing on.
Gametimes: 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. — it's quite the shuffle, and the number of people who step foot on the complex has to be in the thousands.
For the parents: League fees, uniforms, cleats, trophies, banners, team pictures, a season-ending party and then a "your turn" after-game team snack — it adds up.
At this rate, high school soccer is cheaper.
But once you sit down, it all becomes worth it.
While the fields hosting competitive divisions with older kids are surrounded by parents standing, shouting, encouraging their kids on with a little fire, the little ones are simply hilarious.
It's more than endearing to watch your son or daughter boot the ball in their own goal, stand and notice a butterfly as the ball whizzes by or even chug an entire plastic cup of water after 1 minute of play.
At that level, it's an introduction to sport for both parents and kids alike.
The Sharks, Tigers, Dinosaurs — whatever the banner waves, from ages 5 to 15 — learning the rules of the game can also be a task.
Boom, crash, scrape, tears — it happens; little ones fall.
You quickly find what kind of mom or dad you'll be at future competitive events: The shouter, the clapper, the encourager, the I-would-rather-be-watching-college-football face — it's all there.
But the experience and camaraderie are priceless, even the college-football face would agree.
It gives parents a chance to teach valuable lessons and provide support, or in other words, their job.
And for the kids, they get that attention, nurturing and stage. Win or lose, for those 40 or 60 minutes, all eyes are on them — and they need that.
For a Yuba-Sutter community that churns out reports of economic struggles and a high crime rate, those traits aren't found in the Yuba Sutter Youth Soccer League at Riverfront Park on Saturdays.
We are lucky to have a place where good things happen — even if it comes with a little price. After all, most good things do.