Monday, June 23, 2014

The Reasonably Attractive Game

“Josh! Eight years of writing this blog nonsense and barely a word about soccer? But it’s your favorite sport! What’s the deal?” people constantly say to me (as far as you know.)

Favorite sport? I don’t know about that, though it certainly is in the top five, along with ping-pong, laser tag, duck, duck goose and “speed staring” (a small but fast growing sport, jump on the bandwagon now). I have been playing it since I was in first grade, (three hundred years ago) so it has always held a special place in my heart. And considering that it’s that time of year when Americans want to pretend like they care about soccer, what better moment to chime in with my two cents? (Never is also an acceptable answer).

Let me begin with that classic topic: soccer vs football. Actually, no. Let me not address at all because it’s a bullshit waste of time. Call it Ball-Kickers if you want. Hell, it makes sense and sounds more bad-ass than soccer or football. Or, let’s all just call it Greg.

“Hey, who wants to go out and play some Greg?”

“No thanks. We have too much self-respect. Time for some Mario Kart.”

Maybe that’s not such a great idea.

Anyway, I was introduced to soccer at a young age. First I tried basketball, but the concept of running around while bouncing a ball seemed odd to me. I was too distracted by how goofy that looked to be an effective player. Next I tried baseball, but instantly saw the disadvantages of standing in one place while a person you may not know or trust throws a small, heavy sphere straight at your head. Later as a kid, I was fortunate to hear what it sounds like when a bat connects with a person’s head, when swung at a high velocity. I was hundreds of feet away. It was both loud and blood-curdling.

I enjoyed playing football as well, when I was young, but didn’t feel that it required the same amount of skill. Being bigger than other kids didn’t involve special training. Soccer on the other hand needed speed, skills, strength, stamina and sexy thighs. All things I had in abundance. Well, maybe not the skill portion, but I’d like to think I made up for it with spunk. And steroids.

I’ve played on many teams in my day, including a few club teams, (like The Silver Spring Express) school teams (Blazers) and other various (The Sticky Palms*).

One of the highlights of my soccer career was back in 2003 when I was part of a group of American soldiers who played a game against a group of Iraqi soldiers. They beat the shit out of us. Half of them weren’t wearing shoes. There are never any IEDs when you need them.

The other highlight was once in high school when my friend Alex and I somehow conned our way into the announcer’s booth during a home game and went completely off script with the color commentary. We claimed one of the players on our team was Wyclef and his newest album would be dropping soon. We were quickly chased away and asked to never return to any future games. Whatever. They sucked anyway.

I was never as good of a player as I thought in my head, but I had fun. Most of the time. My favorite position was defender because I was fast and wanted to be more involved in the letting-people-come-to-me aspect of soccer, instead of the run-around-like-a-crazy-person aspect of the game. Because that shit sounded exhausting.

My fondest memory is when our team got to represent our country and the big tournament final was against Germany. Our coach, Mr. Brooks, mad us use our special play called the “triple deek” to… no, wait, that was The Mighty Ducks. Gee, maybe I don’t have any fond memories. That seems like a shame.

Oh wait. Soccer chicks. Soccer chicks are a great memory. Hooray for me. And hooray for the American team playing in the World Cup, (thought I forgot all about the World Cup, didn’t you?**)

*Contrary to how ridiculous those names are, I was not in charge of the naming process and cannot be blamed.

**I totally forgot to mention the World Cup. Maybe the topic will come around again in another eight years.

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