Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

"Soccer was invented by European ladies to play while their men did the dishes." -Hank Hill, King of the Hill


A picture of Chena Lake. Frozen. This was from about three weeks ago. I'm still figuring out what we can do with all this ice. Perhaps we can carve it and sell it to tourists. I suggest we cool beer with it.

Tonight was the night that The Boy became an athlete.

If you can call it that. It was his first soccer game. I took pictures, you can bet, but I’m not going to print them. The jerseys are distinctive, and the exploits of the innocent shouldn’t be tarnished by what I’m about to reveal.

Let me rewind. Last year we were out driving and drove by a soccer field where a bunch of kids were playing. The Boy saw the activity, and went haywire. “I WANT TO GO THERE.” He yelled a bit. He was frantic in the back of the car, like a caged wolverine surrounded by hunks of filet mignon. I think that wolverines are carnivorous, but if they aren’t, substitute in the above metaphor what a caged wolverine might find tasty. Beer?

Anyhow, when your kid goes nuts like that you feel like a horrid parent. It was too late to sign him up for soccer at that point, so I just drove on by, attempting to convince The Boy that the running and laughing kids on the soccer field were actually screaming in terror as they ran from invisible monsters that wanted to eat them. I was apparently not convincing. I was vaguely disappointed that they had soccer in Fairbanks. I had been hoping for team wood gathering.

This year the soccer signups came ‘round and we missed them again. Missing the signup date, however, just means you have to pay extra to sign your kid up, like a late credit card fee on kid fun. We signed him up anyway, and they haven’t charged interest yet. Maybe they only charge interest if he has too much fun.

The Boy practiced, and was ready for the big game. We made it to the field on time. I saw his opposition, standing at the ready, bright little four and five year old soccer storm troopers, standing in a straight line, attentive at every utterance that came from their coach. When they were warming up, they took turns kicking the ball at nearly the speed of sound into the junior-size nets from 375 yards. This wasn’t a team of five-year-olds. This was a well-oiled soccer machine.

Our team looked like attention-deficit-disorder stricken rodeo clowns. They were primarily engaged in goofing, laughing, and ignoring their coach. The Boy tried to kiss a teammate during warm-ups. At this point I should mention it's a co-ed team, and his teammate was a girl.

I thought wistfully that maybe there was still hope when the game began. There were eight kids on each side, and the game was supposed to be a four-on-four competition. The Boy wasn’t on the field to start the game, the coach (wisely I thought) keeping him in reserve so his blinding speed could tear through the opponents as they wore down.

The opening whistle sounded, and the play was on! It must have been exciting, because The Boy immediately left the sideline and began playing. Note that the coach hadn’t put him in – he’d self-selected. For a while, it was five-on-four, an unorganized and unsanctioned soccer power play. It didn’t matter, since the opposing team scored short-handed. The coach finally noticed his numerical superiority, did a quick count and pulled another kid out. The Boy’s determination to play was rewarded by . . . more playing time.

During the course of the game, The Boy:
  • put himself in the game,
  • attempted to stop the referee from running the game by bear-hugging his thigh,
  • attempted to push his coach over,
  • led a sideline insurrection by taking a ball and organizing a sideline game that bled over into the real game (stopping play), and,
  • ignored entirely the lines demarking the sides of the field, continuing to play until a fence stopped him.
The Mrs. reported that a grumpy soccer-nazi next to us was criticizing the play on the field. The play of four and five year olds. I’m thinking this was the dad of the little Beckham on the field that made the goal and then did the Riverdance for three minutes in celebration.

Since this was soccer, and not a real sport, I’m proud that The Boy was bored as hell and decided to play it his own way. That’s how rugby started – an American got bored and picked up the ball and knocked a few European guys out of the way. Soccer is boring if it isn’t your kid playing. I’m glad The Boy played. I’m glad he had fun. But, jeez, soccer dad, soccer is still just soccer.

It’s not like it’s football.

20 Comments:

Blogger brotherbill said...

Wow. The Boy is a natural. That's just how Barry Bonds acts during Giants games. Count your blessings.

I cannot wait until little JakeBrake®, my new grandson, is old enough for soccer. If one fills the ball full of Flubber® the game is more fun to watch. Better yet, if one fills the tykes full of....

Maybe, if I fill his diaper full of...

8:54 PM  
Blogger dogsled_stacie said...

I found a use for the rapidly melting slushy ice - margaritas!! Mmmmm...

Love the visual of the manic soccer game. If I had a kid, I suspect it would play soccer just like The Boy. Then I'd hope he/she would want to play a REAL sport - HOCKEY!!

10:37 PM  
Blogger Joann said...

There is something about soccer that is so not USA. Hockey was real, once. What is it with the silly shoot-out things at the end?

10:52 PM  
Blogger Jacie said...

Hysterical! I Giggled from the beginning until the end! Love the powerplay! Our house was full of colorful words last night when the hurricanes were beating our oilers!In the rock/paper/scissors game,well the hurricanes would win that one too!

3:02 AM  
Blogger JohnCub said...

I grew up in northern Pennsylvania and as a result there were many times we wore makeshift halloween costumes over snowsuits.

What would soccer in snowsuits accomplish? Certainly it is going to be an issue at some point, right?

Also, did the governing body of Fairbanks Soccer require you to buy a minivan?

4:08 AM  
Anonymous Raelene said...

Congrats on recognizing the 'soccor dad syndrome' - too many parents are so driven by the need to live vicariously through their children that they take the fun out of life for the rest of the real world kids! And a big 'Atta Boy!" to The Boy for following the beat of his own drummer!

6:09 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Silly man, soccer IS football. You play it with your feet, see? So not only is that strange American version of 'football' played exclusively by juiced-up pansies who can't even take a hit when they're wearing three inches of padding, it's also rather poorly named. Perhaps Handball would be better?

I kid. Yet still I maintain that the reason Americans don't like soccer is because - unlike most other sports - they're crap at it.

7:06 AM  
Blogger Lady Luck said...

Now that's funny! Your Boy is awesome! I am glad he started his own sideline game. Even better that is hilarious that he put himself in the game. Go BOY!!!!!

Did the Mrs. not have something sarcastically cool to say to the soccer Nazi? That would have been funny too!

6:26 AM  
Blogger Woofwoof said...

That's not soccer. That's Calvinball.

7:51 PM  
Blogger John said...

brotherbill,
The Boy is steroid-free, but I think he's eating doughnuts, which for him are performance enhancing.

stacie,
He will play hockey. He will.

joann,
Yup. I haven't seen hockey this year, our cable doesn't carry it. I like overtime.

jacie,
Thanks! A hockey team with the name "hurricanes" just strikes me as wrong. So does a hockey team in Texas.

johncub,
Nope. This is a summer league only. Won't have much more than a foot of snow during the summer.

No minivans. One of the other player's parents has a '62 Impala, with a Danzig logo on it.

raelene,
I'm with you. He'll figure it out sooner or later, but I like him now - more innocent, sweeter. Let the world find him later.

michael,
Had you in mind with that comment!

We are crap at soccer. But can you imagine if the NFL cornerback/runningback types were playing? I can only say one thing: permanent residence of the World Cup in the US.

And, as a former rugby player and football player, I think I like the rugby better to play. The football's more fun to watch.

I like the name Deathball. Or Smashball.

lady luck,
Nice to see you back! The Mrs. didn't bother. People that uptight are just a downer. And, she didn't tell me until we got home, because I might have . . .

woof,
Exactly. You have captured the essence of The Boy in a single word.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

I've never really understood why America doesn't like football (or soccer, or whatever). I think you will take it seriously, eventually, but it'll take something like a strong US performance at a World Cup to push you over the hump.

Uh...but not this one. Italy AND the Czech Republic? Not gonna happen.

8:46 PM  
Blogger DogMa said...

I gotta tell ya, my husband hates blogs but loves soccer, so I took a chance and read him this entry. I thought it was hillarious per usual and though he might as well. He did!

Maybe it is sleep depervation. We stayed up all night and are getting ready to watch the World Cup...I AM DEAD SERIOUS.

4:20 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Hehe...you know you're hooked when you get out of bed on a Sunday morning to watch Iran play Mexico.

8:08 AM  
Blogger Drive By Fruiting said...

Your blog rocks!

12:11 PM  
Blogger John said...

michael,
I doubt (from what I've read) that we have Paris Hilton's chance in a nunnery in this one. One day, perhaps, we'd take it more seriously. I think if there were more commercials, and if anyone understood the rules.

dogma,
I hope you had plenty of tequila, and he found the right door!!

michael,
See, now that's a game I could have watched. Actually not, since I was sleeping. But The Mrs. is that way about the NFL. She watches preseason. That's sad.

drive by fruiting,
Thanks!! I'll try to fix your post.

6:38 PM  
Blogger Shawn Kielty said...

Nice post John -- pass the performance enhancing doughnuts please.

7:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going to predict that soccer will one day be popular in the US. Maybe not in Alaska, but in the lower 48 the population is slowly starting to change as more and more soccer-lovers move here and breed. I'm all for it!

2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Americans hate soccer with a passion. We will always insult it no matter what. We will always question the masculinity of the millions who play it and the billions who watch it, nothing will change that. American sports and athletes are superior and more advanced, foreign sports are inferior.

This is the mindset that no matter what you soccer nazis will never change. America’s culture and sports dominate the world. Soccer is inferior, for weak people of lesser physical and mental stature. Soccer sucks.

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Soccer owns. If you havent noticed, American culture is the laughing stock of the entire world.

9:57 AM  
Anonymous Discount Childrens Costumes said...

enjoyed reading your post my son goes crazy when even if he here some talking about soccer. Well he also insisted for a soccer costume this Halloween and i am just stuck whether i buy him a soccer costume or a Spiderman...

11:12 PM  

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