Tag Archives: Soccer

I love playing sports

I wasn’t good at sports until I was like twenty-five years old. It’s like, once I got past high-school, out of college, on my own for a few years, once I was at the point where I’d really never find myself in a setting to play sports, I got good at them. And when I say good, I’m speaking relatively. I’m sure if you talked to my friends or family members, they’d say I still suck at sports. But I’m much better than I was when I was younger.

From an early age, I always sucked at sports. Like most little kids in suburbia, my parents signed me up for everything, t-ball, baseball, soccer, basketball. I was terrible at everything. I remember specifically this one baseball game – I must have been pretty little still because it was the type of baseball where somebody’s dad did all of the pitching – and my dad was like, “Robbie, if you get a hit today I’ll take you to the comic book store.”

Jesus Christ I wanted to go to the comic book store. Superman had just died and, not being in a socioeconomic position to go out and buy these books every week by myself, I kind of just had to rely on listening to other people talk about it. And there was no Internet and allo of my friends were in the same boat, so nobody knew what they were talking, everybody making up lies about Superman. Please just get a hit. All I have to do it just touch the bat to the ball and it’s comic book time.

I remember not hitting the ball. Maybe there was a foul, but it didn’t count. And I remember my dad taking me anyway, even though I didn’t really come through on my end of the deal. Baseball was tough. Not only because I sucked at sports, but because baseball is so long. Like I like watching baseball, on TV, because there’s plenty of room for snack breaks and video game breaks.

But playing a whole game of baseball? Nine innings? And they always stuck me way in the outfield. So it’s just me, standing there. The chances of another little kid actually hitting a baseball hard enough to make it to where I was standing were infinitesimal. But laying down on the grass yelled at. “Stand up! Pay attention to what’s going on!”

I actually didn’t have that much time to lie down. There were always like one or two dragonflies way out there in the outfield. I mean, yeah, dragonflies don’t do anything, but they’re big, and noisy, and they go about their lives as if human beings don’t exist. Like they don’t make any conscious effort to avoid you. They might come buzzing an inch from your face. That’s pretty nerve wracking. My palms are actually getting sweaty just thinking about it. So yeah, outfield was really this whole stretch of time just trying to avoid these stupid bugs.

And then soccer. I only played one season. It was pretty uncharacteristic of my parents to let me abandon something after only one season, but I sucked at soccer so bad that they had to make an exception to their sports policies. My coach’s name was Ben Dash. His son’s name was Ben Dash. What is it about parents having to coach their own kids? Isn’t there an inherent conflict of interest? Yeah, but I guess it’s a little weirder if you recruit adults with no connection to the kids at all. Still.

One game stands out in my head especially. After being allotted the bare minimum of playing time all season, Coach Dash screams out during one of our games, “G___, in!” I couldn’t believe it. Showtime. I run out onto the field and immediately intercept the ball. Holy shit, I couldn’t believe this was finally happening for me. I hear screaming. Everything’s getting blurry. All of the blood is rushing to my head in excitement. No time to sit down and tremble, I have to keep moving.

Other kids coming at me. I’m dodging them. I’m doing it. There’s the net. Shoot! Blocked, right into the goalie’s hands. “G___, out!” What the hell? I just shot on net. Wait a second, why is everybody laughing? It turned out that I shot on my own goal. All of those kids I dodged? They were my teammates. Even my parents were laughing.

I played the rest of the season, but I swear, and maybe this is some sort of built-in defense mechanism, but that is the only memory that I have of that whole season. That, and some teammate named Arturo, and his dad, who’d stand at the sidelines of every single game and scream, “Pass it to Arturo! Pass it to Arturo!” over and over again, like the only reason any of our parents signed us up for soccer was that somebody we might have the opportunity to pass it to Arturo.

Anyway, I still love playing sports. I love running around. I’m in good shape. I wish I were better when I was younger. I wish I could have had some cool sports memories, maybe like something where I’m a troubled youngster, and I wind up joining some pee-wee hockey league, but the coach isn’t into it, he’s only there because a judge told him he had to do it. But throughout the course of the season we’d all develop really strong bonds, and eventually we’d overcome insurmountable odds to win the championship. That would have been awesome.

Idea generator

The other night I was laying in bed and right before I fell asleep I had this great idea for something to write about. But I knew it was never going to happen. Even during the day, sometimes I’ll think of something, a stupid joke, a story, and I know from experience that I have to write it down immediately, because regardless of how hard I try to keep things in my head, if I don’t write it down I’ll forget about it.

It’s one thing to have a good idea and then to lose it. It’s another thing to remember having the idea but not being able to remember what that idea was. That’s what this is like. I clearly remember having the idea, recognizing it as something that, if not being a necessarily great idea, it was something that I could have gotten a whole blog post out of. That’s always the hardest part of these things, just figuring out what I’m going to write about.

I wish I had some sort of an idea generator. Like a partner. He or she would come up with the ideas, and I would write them out. Obviously this wouldn’t work out, because I would insist on taking all of the credit. “Not even a shout-out?” my idea person would ask me after the first week or so of collaboration. “Nothing!” I’d scream, insisting that I was doing all of the real work, refusing to share even the tiniest morsel of praise. So that probably wouldn’t work.

Unless I could get a string of partners, and use them all up one after the other. Individually, each collaborator probably wouldn’t stand for my bullshit more than a week. But if I just kept finding a new one, I’d theoretically have a supply of never-ending ideas. But that would probably take up so much of my time, posting ads on craigslist, hiring people to give me ideas, denying them credit, putting more ads up for more people, stopping all of my ex-partners from collaborating against me, warning others not to do business with me.

And I just thought about it, what, am I supposed to be paying these people? That would never work out either, because I’m not making any money from any of this. And with me still unwilling to share any of the credit, why would anybody want to work for me? What would be the trade-off? I got it, I could post ads on craigslist telling people I’m looking for a collaborator, and that I’m willing to pay, big time. But I’d write that I need to see some potential ideas, to give me a taste of what this person has to offer. And that would be it. I could just use those sample ideas indefinitely.

But even that seems like a lot of work, constantly going onto craigslist. I’m sure there’s tons of anti-spam policies preventing that type of Internet exploitation. I could offer experience or college credit maybe. No, nobody really buys that.

You know what I need? Some sort of an idea generating software. Something where a computer will just tell me what to write about every day. In fact, now that I’m thinking about it, I could just go on Wikipedia and click on the random article button and see what comes up. Hold on, let me give it a try.

OK, I don’t think this is going to work out. I clicked the random article button and the first thing that came up was a profile of some retired German soccer player. Even worse, he’s a goalie. I practically fell asleep as soon as I started to realize what I was looking at. I mean seriously, talk about obscure, random nonsense. What could I do with any of this? Germans: boring. Soccer: boring. Goalies: boring. Retired: boring. Boring, boring, boring.

I’ll try one more time. Hmm. This time it led me to Alternative Rock. I guess that’s slightly less boring. I like Pearl Jam. I like Bush. But it’s too general. And even though I like the music, I’d say the alt-rock scene is a little too douchey. Just think about alt-rock now. Nickleback. That’s it, I can’t even go any further naming shitty bands. I wouldn’t even call it alt-rock anymore, it’s just rock, or just lame. The whole idea of alternative rock was that it was different right? And so I guess bands today that would have called themselves alternative are instead calling themselves indie. But that’s a whole different level of lame. And whereas what I’m thinking of when I think of alternative rock music was awesome when I was in middle school, now it’s almost like classic rock, just because it’s been around forever. I hate listening to classic rock. First of all, I hate the DJs. They just talk and talk and talk. Second of all, they never play the really good songs, they just play Hotel California and Stairway to Heaven on repeat, which would for alt rock translate to Jeremy and Machine Head on repeat, followed by really annoying commercials that always seem to last longer than the actual music.

So yeah, whatever, the random button on Wikipedia got me about two paragraphs, but I’m looking for like actual blog post material. This all started with an idea I had right before I fell asleep. Sometimes I’ll have these ideas during the day and I’ll write myself a little note on my iPhone, reminding myself of my spontaneous genius. Other times I’ll go for my iPhone, but like a two-year-old with an attention span of a jar of mayonnaise, I immediately get distracted by how awesome my phone is and then I start playing with apps and settings. But that night in bed, I was like half asleep. I thought to myself, shouldn’t you get up and try and write this down? But I was so comfortable, I was just like, nah, I’ll just write some bullshit in the morning about how I forgot about what I was going to write about.

All about soccer

I’ve tried a couple of times now to get into soccer, but it never takes. There are the obvious drawbacks: it’s too boring, it’s too foreign, it’s too popular. But it’s so easy to just sit back and make fun of soccer. Why not look at this objectively? Why can’t I get into soccer? What could be done to make soccer more appealing?

I think a lot of the problem lies in the fact that I really can’t seem to get into any sports. Sure, I have a very limited knowledge of what’s going on in sports, generally. Like, I know that Miami won the NBA championships. I didn’t watch any games. I watched some Knicks games, but only because everyone else I knew was constantly watching them, so I kind of only knew what was going on by association. And even then, my facts were garbled and came out all wrong if I tried to repeat them to somebody else. Does anybody else remember when the Knicks got rid of their coach Dan Tony? Yeah, I thought it was kind of a weird name also.

But at least if I watch a basketball game, I don’t have to be paying too much attention to at least know what’s going on. It’s the same with other sports, like hockey. You just kind of watch for a few minutes here and there and you can kind of get the gist of how it’s being played. But every time I watch soccer I’m just so bored, like beyond bored, and I’m pretty sure that even my friends who are sports fans are also bored, but they’re sports fans, so they can’t really admit how bored they are.

And it can’t be just the pace of the game. Baseball is unimaginably slow also, but even that is at least somewhat possible to follow. Baseball almost makes it a point to be slow. They want you to only be paying attention once in a while. This way you can buy snacks and spend eight dollars on a beer. It’s the kind of sport that you shouldn’t actually try to keep your eyes on for the whole game. And chances are, even with the most limited of attention spans, you won’t have missed anything.

But soccer demands constant attention. Watching a soccer game is like babysitting a one year old. It won’t just sit there, out of the way. The one year old baby insists on crawling around everywhere, never sitting still, touching everything. Best case scenario, it doesn’t cry. But usually, it’s going to want to stick its tongue in the wall socket, you’re going to have to say no, and it’s going to start wailing until it decides that it wants to play with the antique vase at the top of the bookshelf. The whole time, you have to sit there. You can’t take your eyes off the baby for a second. Maybe, and this is a big maybe, the baby will do something adorable, or it will look you in the eye and laugh, and you’ll feel like maybe you had a brief connection with this cute little kid. But more often than not, you’re just sitting there, counting down the second until its parents come back.

That right there is the perfect description of a soccer game. I’ve only ever been to one game, but that’s exactly what it was like. All of the fans were chanting nonstop, in unison, elaborate songs and dances, not even a chance to rest for a second, not even a minute to grab a beer or buy a snack. No, you’re demanded to pay attention to every single pass, every out of bounds, every blocked shot. Most of the time the game’s just going to end in a tie, zero to zero.

I think I might be a little biased. Even I know that it’s not exactly professional to try something once and then completely write it off. I think there has to be a deeper reason for my profound dislike of soccer. I only played soccer for one year in the second grade. My coach was this huge asshole named Ben Dash. His grandson was on the team and his name was Ben Dash also. Coach Dash only ran one play: get the ball to Ben Dash. Well one time I got the ball, which, considering my complete lack of anything even remotely close to a ball-handling skill, was a minor miracle in and of itself. As soon as my foot touched the ball, I heard a shout from the sidelines. It was Ben Dash. He was screaming to me, “Pass the ball to Ben Dash!”

Not today. I went for it. I charged down the field, a blur, expertly passing all of the players in my way. I got to the goal and shot. And I missed completely. Then I heard Coach Ben Dash calling me off the field. Come on! I just had a shot! That’s huge in soccer! But it turned out that I had shot on my own goal. I turned around and realized that all of the players I had ran past were my own teammates. Everyone was laughing at me, all of the other parents, even my parents. It wasn’t my fault, it was soccer’s fault.

I’ve always thought soccer would be better played with three or four soccer balls at the same time. There also should be a three point line. And a four point line. And some traps. I also think it would be cool if somebody made a sport that was like real life foosball. They could attach all of the players to giant poles that would swing us all around wildly, allowing us to turbo-kick the ball. That would be awesome. It would be like a thrill ride and a sport at the same time.

One day I’m going to buy my own soccer team and I’m just going to order all of my players to try to pick up the ball with their hands and just throw it into the net. Even if the refs blow the whistle, just keep going, I’ll tell them, don’t stop. I don’t care how many players get ejected from the game, I’ll be paying my players so well that nothing will be able to stop them. And I’ll bring my own scoreboard to the game and I’ll count every goal that we throw in our opponents’ net. And I’ll host my own championship match, and if the other team doesn’t show up, I’ll call it as a forfeit, that we won. Eventually I’ll just be so loud and obnoxious, our victories scored higher and higher, our end-of-the-game parades more and more elaborate, that the other teams won’t have any choice but to stoop to my level. I’ll have finally made soccer interesting and watchable. And the whole world will thank me. And I’ll say, you’re welcome.