Monday, March 22, 2010

Indoor soccer

I'm playing indoor soccer.

Statement of fact. I am playing indoor soccer. Not one of my children. Me.

It is one of those times I wish I drank to excess so I would have a better reason as to why I am playing indoor soccer. However, I don't. I was stone-cold sober when I agreed to it. WTG [what the gammichia] was I thinking?????

Here is the back-story. My wife and I have somehow sired 3 incredibly beautiful, talented children. The oldest is a soccer phenom. Yes, I am looking at it through parent-colored glasses but it is true - she is really, really good at soccer. Natural ability, drive, passion, competitive. She is proof that athletic ability is not inherited - or proof that the hospital switched kids on me 11 years ago even though I never let her out of my sight.

Because of her soccer talent, we have spent the last 5 years attending soccer games, camps, practices, etc. Oh, and if you didn't know, soccer is a year-round sport. If it is too wet outside, it is played indoors. But I digress. During these 5 years, she has moved onto a team of girls with equal ability to her. They are an awesome group of girls, and the parents are a lot of fun also. These girls each have unbelievable athletic ability for their ages, and I believe I can state this without offending anyone - each of the girls was mixed up in the hospital. Do you hear what I am saying? We are a loving, caring group of parents. We are dedicated to our families and our careers. We are successful business people. We are intelligent; we are kind; we are passionate about our daughter's team; did I mention loving & caring, oh yeah... What did I miss - athletic. Yep, that's the word I am looking for, athletic. Is there a word that means the opposite of that, because that is the word I am really looking for.

Now I can't speak for everyone, there may be some that WERE athletic. I'm sure all of us weighed less at one point in our lives. I am sure many of us even had the ability to run and stop and turn and kick without risking injury to our ligaments/cardiovascular system/etc. That time has passed, however.

So this group of parents decides (i.e. several of them were at a bar after a game for a little too long) that it would be fun for the parents to put together a soccer team and play an indoor season. It would give us a new appreciation for what our daughters do so easily and give us a chance to show our kids that we can still "kick it", literally.

What a great idea. Hey, you even found an indoor league that plays 1 mile from my house on Sunday evenings that is a Novice Coed league. Yes, Susan and I would love to play on the team.

"Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids" or in this case "Dumbass, indoor soccer is for 20-somethings"

See my wife and I, we have 3 post-graduate degrees between us. We thought the word "novice" in the league description meant "inexperienced, learning, lacking in knowledge". However, apparently it was a typo and should have been written "no vice", meaning "without scruples or I got kicked off my college soccer team for alcoholism".

We are supposed to be playing in the lowest (read "worst") coed division. We are a group of parents of 11 & 12 year old girls (read "we are between the ages of 35 & 45"). We graduated high school in the 1980s. We show up to games with, 20 kids under the age of 12 cheering us on ("read laughing their a**** off").

Thus far in the league we have played 5 games. We have won 1 (OK, I don't care that it was a forfeit, a win is a win). We have scored 1 goal. But we are having fun. We laugh, we wheeze, we have a good time. And for the most part, so do the teams we play against.

Now I tell you all that to get to this. The "novice" part of our league title is totally meaningless. Thus far every team we have played has included players with college experience. Allow me to clarify, they started on a Division I college soccer team within the last 4 years. See, we have yet to play a team that has a single player as old as our youngest player. We have seen a grand total of 1 child in the opposing team's box, and I'm pretty sure that one of the players was babysitting.

All of that is OK because up until last night, the teams had fun with us. We joke with them at the beginning. We try hard and we go completely nuts when we score a goal (or even get the ball close to the goal - good save by the opposing goalie, that just means we kicked the ball good - yeah us!).

So last night we play a team that has 9 players (you field 7 at a time - by way of comparison, we have 14 players). The team consisted of 4 girls who all show up with University Soccer sweatshirts on and look to be maybe 22. The guys are all 6 foot tall or more, the oldest is maybe 25 and even though I am 3 inches shorter, I outweigh them by a good 30 pounds. Looks like a typical game.

Except, this team doesn't joke around with us before the game. They have "game-faces" on. Apparently, life isn't serious enough for these young-uns. They need soccer to feel alive. Let me cut to the chase here. They beat us like 9 - 0. Actually, not the worst beating we have had and they didn't score for like 15 minutes (man they were pissed about that - hahahahahaha). What got me was that there was never a doubt about who would win. Their girls were running circles around us (and in coed soccer, the rules favor a team with very strong girls), relax and have fun. Instead, they celebrated each goal like they had won the World Cup, got a 2 minute penalty for elbowing one of our girls (she may be 40 and the mother of 2 but she is still a girl). Their guys were throwing their hips into everyone, knocking us into the boards, their goalie started screaming at the ref protesting a call (when they were up by 9 with just over 1 minute to go), etc. You get the picture.

Let's just say that I wasn't having Christian thoughts last night from 7:30 - 8:30 pm CDT.

Here is the teaching point. If you want to play competitive soccer, play in the league marked "competitive". If you want to pretend that you are a novice soccer player, use your non-dominant leg or put your shoes on the wrong foot or wear a fat-suit. However, if you are a competitive team, don't come play in a novice league and act like you are playing for national pride.

Now for the deep thought that is tenuously linked to the above story. Maybe it is what makes us entrepreneurs. I don't want to play against competition that I know I can beat. To me that is not competition. I want to challenge myself, I want to play against equals. And where I am not, I certainly am not going to pat myself on the back about it. I kept thinking last night "hey jerk, come back and play me in 15 years when you are raising 3 kids, running 2 businesses in this economy, dealing with bankers and bills and patients..." I compete 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. That competition is to keep a business afloat and employees compensated. It is a fight to keep my children safe and maintain my marriage. The victories are small, the goals long term, the adversaries much bigger and stronger. I have no substitutes to step in and give me a breather.

I don't need to compete against lesser talent for an hour on Sundays to feel alive. I need to laugh.

If I haven't mentioned it before, I love being 38. Thank God I am older and wiser.

Have a great week.



Anonymous said...

This happened to me in both my coed recreational volleyball league and softball league. The volleyball league had teams that were doing jump serves and set fakes. Those were the same teams that would be up by 10 points but still throw a fit if their 40-mile-per-hour spike was called out. In my softball league, I found out that a team we played against had two guys that played minor league baseball. I was afraid to play in the infield cause they would hit line drives that could dent an aluminum bat. I thought recreational leagues were all about having fun, getting a little exercise, and going out for post-game drinks. I guess some people enjoy being a big fish in a little pond.

Anonymous said...

Great post! Hilarious and touching. Thanks for the lunchtime read!



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