Parenting is a Game of Football

The Man Who MadeThinking Cool

The Man Who Made Thinking Cool (spratmackrel)

The Premier League in England starts up again this weekend.  Unfortunately for me, my team’s season started a couple of weeks ago because Birmingham City are officially crap.  The Championship starts a couple of weeks earlier than the Premiership and we have had a half decent start with 1 win from 2 games.

Usually, this is a wonderful time of the year when everyone can dream but this year I have very low-level hopes: avoid relegation, get rid of our chairman who is on charges of money laundering in China, avoid administration.

Football and Life

“All that I know most surely about morality and obligations, I owe to football.”

He may not have been the world’s greatest goalkeeper, but Albert Camus  bridged the gap between the beautiful game and philosophy and arguable became one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century.  He claimed to have developed a lot of his thinking through playing, watching and talking football.

If a great thinker can credit his ideas to a sport, why can’t I do the same for parenting?


The best teams aren’t full of the best players; they are full of players that mix well and complement each other to produce something that is more than the sum of its parts.

The same can be said of parenting.  Instead of goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and attackers we have dads, mothers, friends, in-laws, out-laws, the nice couple around the corner…  We may not have all the ingredients but whatever there is needs to work well together.  There is no point have the world’s greatest dad if he doesn’t work well with the rest of the family.

4-4-2 diamond

4-4-2 diamond (Wikipedia)


‘Ladies and gentlemen, England will be playing 4-4 fucking 2!’   Arguably one of the (many) reasons England have been so bad over the last  50 years is that they have been very restricted when it comes to tactics.  A good set of tactics can elevate an average team into a good one, and good team into a great one.  No tactics and even the best team in the world will struggle to win much.

Being aware of the goals that the family is working towards and they way they hope to get there and then trying to do this together are vital.  Without this you’ll just end up playing my Junior school football team: running around like a bunch of headless chickens.


I’ve played in games where you might as well have been in church.  Nobody is talking to each other, there are no shouts of ‘man on’ or please from the ball as the winger bombs into space in the box.  I have also played in teams with lots of relevant and timely advice from the leaders of the team.  You can guess which teams usually do well.

In order for the team to work together and the tactics to be implemented, communication is key.  Parents need to talk to each other.  They need to communicate ideas and strategies to grandparents and try to ensure that everyone knows their roles and tries to stick to them.  If granny is….

Birmingham City Football Club badge

Keep Right On

Keep Right On

As I said, my team is Birmingham City and we have known our fair share of heartache.  Our club’s anthem is  Keep Right On and when it is sung by a packed stadium it brings a lump to my throat.  It talks about how the journey is long , no matter how ‘tired and weary’ you might become, you have to ‘keep right on ’til the end of the road.’

We have a lot of tears and heartaches as parents.  But we have to keep right on until the end of the road.

Don’t Blame Others

It is common for players, managers and fans to blame somebody else for their ills.  if it isn’t the referee it is the chairman, lady luck or Gypsies.  The fact is, though, that it is usually our own fault when things go wrong.  Sure, there are times when we don’t get the rub of the green, but that is just the way things are.

As a parent it is easy to blame others, our parents, our partners, our kid’s teacher…  The list is endless.  However, it would pay for us to start looking closer to home if there is something systematically wrong.


After a good, or a bad match, there is nothing more satisfying than a pint of beer, or two.  The same goes for parenting.  Once the little mascots have finally gone to bed, crack open a can or open a bottle of red.

The Beautiful Game

We love football because it is the beautiful game.  We endure all the lows for one brief glimpse of a high.  It is simple and elemental, yet complicated and advanced.  If this isn’t a metaphor for parenting, I don’t know what is.

To paraphrase the opening quote: A lot that I know most surely about parenting and obligations, I owe to football.

One of the greatest moments of my life:

The Man Who Made Thinking Cool

Monty Python on football and philosophy



7 thoughts on “Parenting is a Game of Football

  1. There is a lot of truth in this article, especially

    ” Birmingham City are officially crap. ” Yep, I have to agree with you.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this and seeing someone focus on football to do this. A lot of the US dad blogs that I read regularly have used baseball as the reference point which is great, although I don’t really relate to it in the same way as I don’t fully understand the sport.

    Talking about philosophy and football, have you read the two Philosophy Football books that Mark Perryman has written? They’re simultaneously fun, humorous and quite deep in places.


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