How to Get Angry Adults to Act Like Adults

zidanematerazziLast week at my pickup soccer game, one of the guys asked me if I had ever gotten angry on the field. I’ve played pickup for about 10 years now, and I could only think of one time when a player had repeatedly shoved me in the back while I was sprinting. Each time it got more and more aggressive, and I finally snapped a little bit and told him quite firmly not to do it again.

It felt both necessary and weird to get in someone’s face like that, and I realized I just needed to stay away from that player for the rest of the game so I could cool down (and so he could too). It worked great, and the next time we played together, there were no residual issues.

That, to me, is how you deal with anger as an adult. You feel it, you let it be known, and then you remove yourself from the situation so you can move on.

However, that isn’t what I saw on the soccer field tonight.

I didn’t even notice the situation until it escalated, but apparently a younger guy had hacked at an older guy’s legs one too many times. The younger guy was trying to apologize, but the older guy was having none of it. They hadn’t come to blows, but they continued to yell at each other and guard one another.

One of the other players told the older guy to calm down. No one wants to be told to calm down, and the guy replied with some choice words about that suggestion. Meanwhile, the younger guy continued to verbally harass him.

I was pretty uncomfortable at this point. Not that it was about me or anything, but I try to do things on the field to make everyone have a good time. I compliment players when they play well regardless of which team they’re on. I never, ever criticize another player. I try to keep things light and playful–after all, we’re playing a game and trying to relax.

So not only was their conflict getting in the way of the friendly nature of the game, but there was the slight concern that one of these guys may hurt the other with a rough tackle. They needed to deal with their anger like adults, and they simply weren’t doing that.

This is where you come in, dearest readers. If you were me, is there anything I could have said or done to help the situation? Or is there really nothing to do? I think my instinct is to say something like, “Come on, guys,” just to call attention to the fact that they’re acting inappropriately, but I really don’t know what good that does. What would you do?

2 thoughts on “How to Get Angry Adults to Act Like Adults”

  1. Can’t believe no one suggested anything. I said a cage death match should solve the problem. Have those two duel it out while the rest of you continue with the light-hearted soccer game. Seriously, I would just suggest everybody take a little break from the game then go ask other people if it’s okay to switch the positions around a little to keep those two away from each other for the remainder of the game. It’s clearly they have reached the point of no return when the young apologized to the old for his actions and the old not only did he not accept the apology but continue to add more oil to that little spark for fire. Uncomfortableness for everybody! Yay!
    Or you could of give them each a headbutt like what the Frenchie did and redirect their anger towards you. Make you run faster, right?


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