Monday, October 27, 2008

Bad News Bears

Okay, that is what Luke's soccer team looked like this weekend. Luke was very excited about Grandma coming to his game and he didn't hesitate about playing even once. This is the first game where he didn't get to have a break (there were no alternates). Usually, whenever the Coach asks, "Who needs a break?", it is my kid who pipes up immediately and insists that he is ready for a break, even if he was the last kid to take a break. It is a little embarrassing to have the kid who will be voted "Most Likely to Join a Labor Union." Still, he is cute, and he didn't complain too much this game about needing a break. He only walked off the field/job once or twice insisting that he needed a break. By the way, they get four breaks during the game (one for each quarter).

I don't think I've ever explained how the game works, but it is relevant to the post today. You play four quarters. I don't know how long each quarter is, but let's just say I think there should only be three quarters instead of four - of course then we would call them thirds, etc - I digress. Each team has about a dozen players and you play four on four on two separate fields. That means you need 8 players to have two fields. We started out with six kids from our team so we were playing three on three on two fields. Luckily we got a fourth somewhere during the beginning of the game. At half time, one team switches fields and plays the other four kids from the other team. Sometimes (depending on the ref) you have the kids switch goals so that they aren't constantly kicking into the sun.

This weekend, we played four quarters and we were the team that switched fields. We did not get to switch goals, and our poor kids were kicking into the sun all four quarters. We played a pansy team called "the Wiggles". When I first looked at the schedule I felt so sorry for these kids since they were stuck with such a terrible name while our team is rocking with a cool name that an NBA team uses. Well, I feel sorry for the Wiggles no more. They smoked us! Of course, as I said, they were playing the bad news bears, so it was no surprise.

I have to admit that we are usually not great, but we're usually not terrible either. Well, the three boys and Luke who were "playing" on the same field were terrible. They couldn't have been less interested in soccer that first half. All the parents on the sideline were cheering them on with phrases like, "Luke, the ball's over there!" and "Jack, stop swinging Charlie by the shirt and get the ball!" and "John, get your head out of your shirt!" I must give them credit, that they did at least try to chase the ball, but the Wiggles had some super-freak boy (I swear he was over the age limit for the team) who kept making goals. He would break away and just run to the unguarded goal and score. This Harrison kid was a freakin ringer! I think they lied about his age so they could get a huge six year old on the team.

Also during that first half there were a few minutes after the Wiggles (Harrison) scored their 11th unanswered goal that our team was over off the field playing tag or some such nonsense. All of our parents were squinting across the field trying to figure out what they were doing as we laughed heartily about the dismal situation. The poor coach had to go herd the kittens as the parents from the other team were looking at each other in confusion and saying things like, "What are those kids doing over there?" Of course, Harrison got a little break so that he could continue to score on our team without breaking a sweat for the last few minutes of the first half. It was more than slightly embarrassing, but we were too busy laughing about the pathetic nature of it all that I couldn't get really embarrassed. Luckily when we switched sides, our team was more evenly matched and one of our players found a formula of his own and scored five or six goals.

The highlight of the entire game was that Luke's sense of competition actually started to kick in. First, he almost scored a goal, but it got blocked by the other team (Yet, another over-aged player I think. I wonder if they are also doping in addition to lying about their ages.) Chuck and I were so freakin' excited!!!! I swear I almost peed my pants when Luke broke away from the swarm of boys and headed for the goal with the soccer ball. And then . . . it was blocked and I sunk back into my lawn chair as if the Cowboys had just lost in the final seconds of the Super Bowl.

Second, Luke started to figure out that he likes it when his team scores and he doesn't like it when the other team scores. The other team only scored a few goals during the second half, but at one point Luke walked over to the sideline after the Wiggles scored and in defeat he hung his head and slapped his hands on his legs as he said, "We always lose!" Of course, we don't always lose, but we do most of the time so I get his drift. Chuck bucked him up, encouraged him to get back on the field, and told him we would score again. Luke ran back and of course, our ringer with the secret formula scored again. Luke came running back to the sideline so that Chuck could throw him up in the air in celebration - a habit that continued through all of Charlie's goals. It was awesome! We are so excited that Luke finally gets it, plus it was highly amusing.

I must admit that I don't have the patience to make it as a coach. First, I have no sports background, no competitive nature, and the thought of ever putting on shin guards again makes me want to vomit. Second, there is no way, I could pointlessly run around a soccer field with booger-filled tissues in my pockets, tying shoes and herding kittens. Yuck, and no thank you. However, I am eternally grateful to the the patient, loving, kind, and generous parents who are willing to take over those tasks. I am also equally grateful that their kids each have the same limited attention span as my kid.

Other good stuff this weekend, but I'll have to post about it later. Hope you had as great a weekend as mine - except for the one really, really low point which deserves a post all unto itself. Don't worry, no one died - except me - and that was simply because of extreme mortification, shame, and overall embarrassment.

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