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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Disorganized Sports

In my experience, team sports were best when the kids were little and played for the grand experience of the whole thing. Son Number One burst onto the soccer scene at age six, wearing cleats the size and shape of the business end of a toothbrush. He’d never heard of “offsides” nor had he, in all his years of outdoor recreation, come across a soccer goal or pair of shin guards, but we missed baseball signups and he wanted to play something, anything. The first time most of the kids on his team ever saw a soccer field was when they played their first game.

I ran down to stand behind the goal so they would know which way to run to score points. Not only unnecessary, this strategy was ineffective. 18 little boys chasing a runaway ball operate on basically the same principal as a swarm of fruit flies chasing a rotten orange. The ball is in charge and, without question or deviation, they follow wherever it leads. Often I looked up in time to see a herd of gleeful little boys in baggy shorts chase a ball down a hill of muddy red clay and into the woods. These particular woods were part of a protected wetland area, and resident snakes and other wildlife were only part of the reason that a No Trespassing rule was in place. The boys would emerge, some sooner and some later, covered in sticks and smiles. None were ever in possession of the ball. Or thankfully, inappropriate flora or fauna specimens.

Another area of fascination is the uniform. Soccer clothes are a curiosity to small children. As a general rule, the shirt billows like the sails of a tall ship in high winds, and the shorts are often large enough for everyone on the team to fit in the same pair, with a drawstring to cinch them tight enough to prevent embarrassment. There was a bit of excitement once when a small, blonde boy was absorbed with an emergency situation involving an untied shoe during peak action. At that age shoe-tying is still a risky proposition at best, requiring total concentration. Dealing with voluminous clothing while he bent to tie the errant shoelace added an extra challenge. He managed to tie the drawstring of his shorts in with the bow of his shoe and when he arose, a dramatic scene unfolded. It took three referees, two coaches, and a Team Mom to restore order.

1 comment:

wordsmith said...

OMG...having played Varsity soccer, coached youth soccer and have dreams of one day coaching my son's soccer team(s), you brought back memories...and visions of my future. Be glad it wasn't also cold season, when runny noses, snot and wind do not make good playmates. Those strange polyester jerseys may wick away sweat, but snot, not so much. It's so true about the uniforms...but aren't they just darling in them? Great post as always! :)