I have to admit that it’s been a long time since I have watched much soccer, let alone put on a pair of cleats. I still have a pair of soccer cleats but I use them to play softball instead of soccer. I think that’s indicative of our attitude to the world’s favorite sport here in the US – we acknowledge that it exists but we don’t really pay all that much attention to it. Most of the time it just sits in the back of our closet, like my cleats. Even back in high school when I played a lot of soccer and the sport took up a good portion of my spare time, I still spent more time watching basketball and football than I did watching the “beautiful game.”
Last weekend my wife and I attended a graduation party for my mentee, Adam. I’m not sure if ‘mentee’ is an actual word but since I am Adam’s mentor I suppose that would make him my mentee. I don’t know whether to call Adam a young adult, a kid or an adult so I’ll just settle on friend as that is what he is to my wife and I at this point. Adam is a very gifted animator, artist, student and soccer player. He and his family (including his identical twin brother, Ian) are amazing people and we are lucky to have them in our lives.
When JJ and I were over at Adam’s graduation party the US was playing England in their opening match. I spent a bit of time watching the game when I wasn’t busy stuffing my face (Adam’s family really knows how to put together a good spread) or talking with friends and family. Against all odds, the US tied the game and held on to end the game with a tie. When the shot hit the back of the English goal, I yelled – loudly. I completely surprised myself and have to admit I wasn’t even thinking about what I was doing. The next thing I knew I was out of my seat yelling something intelligent like “Yeaahhhhhhhewwwww they scored!” Luckily I wasn’t the only one.
Since last Saturday, I’ve spent some time each morning watching portions of matches while getting ready for work. I really had forgotten how much fun it is to watch soccer – especially the world cup. This is a sport that is wildly popular in every corner of the globe and each country has its own style and its own accompaniment and contingent of crazy fans. I have to admit the weird horns that the fans are blowing in South Africa make each match sound like there is a host of angry killer bees ready to descend from above but it all becomes background noise after a few minutes.
I’m thinking that I’m going to have to start taking my daughter to a few Timbers games coming up now that the Timbers have joined the MLS. Maybe I’ll even dust off the cleats in the closet and use them for the right sport. Anyone up for a game?