Thursday, September 16, 2010

Play: Endless Soccer

I just finished discussing George Orwell's 1984 with my students.  I really should have been pondering parallels to the Patriot Act or U.S. involvement in the Middle East; my students did and they're only 17.  Instead, I thought about soccer.

The lives of the citizens of Orwell's Oceania are controlled in part by their nation's Endless War and its revolving enemies; my freetime is controlled by Endless Soccer. Just as Oceania wages an eternal battle with, alternately, Eastasia and Eurasia, soccer seasons, leagues, and obligations loop ceaselessly and undistinguishably through my life. 

It began when Little E was a baby and my husband took on a soccer coaching job, from that sprung our occasional fall afternoons watching him coach, his winter Thursday nights playing indoors, our fall Saturday mornings watching him play outdoors, our spring Sunday mornings watching him play outdoors, our summer Wednesday nights watching him play outdoors, our spring Saturday afternoons watching him coach Big E's soccer team, and our fall Saturday afternoons watching him coach Big E's soccer team.  This is not to mention the week of soccer camp enjoyed by both girls, the seven pairs of soccer shoes that have moved in, the bags of variously sized soccer balls in the trunk of the car, or the chirp of British "football" announcers that has become the official background noise of our living room.

I did not grow up in a soccer family; my parents didn't let me play until third grade --ancient in youth soccer, according to my husband-- and when they did they were unenthusiastic.  My two most defining soccer memories: my coach forcing me to play with my arms clasped behind my back after I was called for a handball while cowering in terror, and my mother not buying shin guards until my younger brother began playing, when we shared a pair between us --his size, not mine.  So, I get it when I tell Little E that it's time to go to another game, and she wails, "Not Soccer!"

I am out of place on the soccer sideline.  The intensity of the parents at Big E's games gives me stomachaches and their smug satisfaction at their children's prowess makes me wish that reading group were a spectator sport.  And I learned the hard way that when the other soccer wives compliment your husband's foot speed, it is not appropriate to point out that while it may appear that way in a short sprint he is so not able to keep up with you over any kind of distance.

Lest I be disappeared by the Suburban Thought Police, I must say it's not all bad.  Endless Soccer has gotten my husband in great shape, given Big E some much-needed toughening up, and allowed me to pretend that I'm seventeen again, cheering on my man.  It has also forced on me some needed perspective: my children are not me and I cannot always mold them in my image...sometimes I have to give my husband a turn.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post. I like the juxtaposition of Orwell and soccer. Paragraph 3 says it all.