Uh, oh…did I just become a soccer mom?

SOCCER MOM: a typically suburban mother who accompanies her children to their soccer games and is considered as part of a significant voting bloc or demographic group

It’s Saturday and in our house that now means soccer.

It seems to me that coaching children’s sports is the closest men come to childbirth.  Coaching can be painful and chaotic but there is generally a prize at the end.  And, apparently coaching comes with the same memory-fading magic of childbirth.  I have no other way to explain why Husband agreed to coach again just after finishing T-ball.

You may remember that I was slow to get on board with T-ball.  But, I’m making progress.  I have accepted and even embraced this season of soccer because it is clear that Son loves it.  He asks to wear his cleats everywhere and considers any day with shin guards a good day.  I was feeling happy as I stood on the sidelines of his game last weekend, handing out snacks to a group of adorable kids in uniform.  But, then it struck me…maybe I’m becoming a “soccer mom.”  You know, THAT mom.  Oh, geez.

As I often do, I turned to Webster to tell me what I am.  I consider soccer mom to be slang, but Webster is more hip than I gave him credit for.  According to Webster, the key “soccer mom” traits are:

  • Suburban
  • Mother
  • With children who play soccer
  • Part of a significant demographic group

As a woman I think I automatically qualify as “part of a significant demographic group,” I am certainly a mother, and as of a few weeks ago I now have a child who plays soccer.  Based on Webster’s definition and my rough calculations, I am 75% soccer mom.

I confess, that bummed me out.  Webster makes it sound benign, but I have a more negative definition in my head.  To me, soccer moms are those moms that shuttle over-scheduled children from one activity to the next in their mini-vans with the family stick-figures on the back window and bumper stickers that boast about their child’s elementary school achievements.   How did Webster fail to include mini-vans and obnoxious bumper stickers in the definition?  Aren’t those standard-issue for soccer moms?  So, I put my college statistics courses to good use and remembered that you can make the numbers say whatever you want.  So, I went looking for other formulas…

According to Wikipedia, the term “soccer mom” came into widespread use in 1996 in association with the presidential election.  Bob Dole’s media advisor said Bill Clinton was targeting the soccer mom demographic.  And from that point on, soccer moms received a lot of media attention.  The most frequently mentioned soccer mom attribute cited in major newspaper articles during that election was that soccer moms had children.  Obvious, no?  The next most frequently mentioned soccer mom attributes were:

  • Lives in the suburbs (41.2% of the articles)
  • Is a swing voter (30.8%)
  • Is busy, harried, stressed out, or overburdened (28.4%)
  • Works outside the home (24.6%)
  • Drives a minivan, (usually Volvo) station wagon, or sports-utility vehicle (20.9%)
  • Is middle-class (17.1%)
  • Is married (13.7%)
  • Is white (13.3%)

Here’s where the math got complicated.  In order to determine my soccer mom percentage according to 1996 journalists, I’d needed to find a way to weight the soccer mom characteristics according to importance and then calculate the relative value of the traits I have (white, married, middle-class, works outside the home, and busy) against the ones I don’t (suburban, swing voter, minivan/SUV driver).  The math turned out to be too complicated for me.  So, I decided to switch from statistics to taxonomy.

While I do have the most frequently cited soccer mom attribute (children) the fact that I do not have the next most important attribute in soccer mom taxonomy (suburban) clearly excludes me from this particular mothering label.

So, I’m off to watch Son play soccer.

As a mom.

In a Honda Accord.

Without bumper stickers or window decals.

A mom with an undecorated Honda and a kid who plays soccer.

Yep, that’s me.

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9 thoughts on “Uh, oh…did I just become a soccer mom?

  1. I drive a Ford F-150. The gun rack, bumper sticker and flag window decal are implied. So is the utter lack of anxiety about stereotypes.

    1. My barista asked if I was on my way to soccer this past weekend. I confessed I was but that I wasn’t ready for the “soccer mom” label. She said as long as I didn’t bring orange slices for half-time I was safe. Sadly, that is exactly what I brought.

      1. You go girl with your orange slices! I think that is an exception to the soccer mom stereotype. The regular soccer moms bring goldfish crackers and Gatorade. Orange slices are the not a “soccer mom” staple. Instead, they are the “healthy mom” staple. 😉

  2. I’m a soccer mom. And I drive a mini-van. And I’m also the president of the PTA at my kid’s school. I’ve hit the uptight middle class white woman trifecta. I try to tell myself I’m still cool, but you can’t fight the mini-van. I’m happy to say I don’t have any obnoxious bumper stickers, and I just bring a book to read during soccer practice so I don’t have to listen to anyone brag about their over achieving kid.

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