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Idling in cars (without) boys? A soccer mom mystery

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Every Tuesday and Thursday our youngest boy, Jackson, has soccer practice. It's in a wonderful park by the river, and when the weather is nice it's a great place to take a stroll on the miles of paths. Or, if you aren't up for a walk, you can certainly set up a folding chair in the shade of some old sycamore trees and watch your second-graders play soccer.

However, another option seems to be the most popular choice, which is to sit in your idling car with the air conditioning on while texting for the entirety of the 90-minute practice!

I'm not kidding, this is what the other moms do. Last night it was a beautiful evening, about 70 degrees and sunny with slight breeze and I was the only parent out in the fresh air. At times one of the moms would leave the sterile, air-conditioned nirvana of their idling SUV to walk over to another car to chat, but most stayed put for the entire duration of soccer practice.

So, a beautiful Spring evening is not the only thing wasted in this scenario, as idling for long periods of time wastes gas and puts carbon dioxide into the air. This practice is obviously not environmentally friendly, and here's the math to prove it.

  • An idling SUV uses about 7/10 of a gallon of gas per hour, and releases about 9 pounds of CO2 into the air.
  • These moms idle for 90 minutes each, which means that during every practice each of these cars wastes over a gallon of gas and releases about 14 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Last night 6 of the 10 moms engaged in this wasteful practice, so each practice that equals 6+ gallons of gas plus 82 pounds of carbon dioxide released into the air during just one soccer practice.

*Fun fact: With that amount of gas, a Prius could drive from Philadelphia to Boston!

Anyway, this peticular Spring soccer session has 10 week of practices, so you can imagine how this adds up.

I'm not trying to preach about the environment here, I'm just fascinated by this practice on several levels. Every week this armada of idling Japanese SUVs and minivans slowly forms like clockwork, and every week I'm the only person out in the fresh air.

Most nights I'll take our dog for a walk on the scenic paths along the river, but for at least part of the practice I'll just be just sitting there on my folding chair, logging my copious ww points, (although I try to holster my phone whenever possible) listening to the din of idling cars.

I need to know why they do it!

Here are a few possibilies:

  1. These moms are afraid they might encouter a mosquito
  2. Kids' peanut allergies get all of the attention while millions of parents (like these) silently suffer through severe grass allergies
  3. It's not a random grouping at all. These moms are not texting, but coding! In fact, they may be our last line of defense against Russian hackers?

More likely, they are just acting like pampered zombies.

They say that "grit" is the key ingredient to success, so what kind of example are these timorous parents setting for their kids?

I want to yell at them to turn off the A/C, put down your phone, and get outside!

Anyway, I'm trying to figure out if this is just a local phenomenon, or common practice around the country.

They say that about 3 million kids play soccer each year, so if this is happening everywhere, I may have discovered the hidden source of climate change!

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