It’s in my nature to be competitive, but this month-long FIFA World Cup Soccer extravaganza is stretching me way beyond my normal capacity! Honestly, is there anyone else who is as maxed out as I am? (Come on now … don’t be afraid to raise your hand.)Soccer was never a sport I played. Living in St. Louis where I grew up, our sport was baseball and the Cardinals were always our team. My brothers and I spent our summers out on a vacant field behind our house, and since this spot was an excellent gathering place for other kids in the neighborhood, we usually had a game of baseball going.
But soccer? There might have been a time in junior high school when the PE teacher mentioned soccer but little more, certainly not enough information for any of us to understand and enjoy the game. Whatever the teacher taught was obviously forgettable.
During my children’s early sports years, I think each of them played fall soccer at least one year. As a parent, I knew they needed to wear shin guards, the object was getting the ball in the net, and the children did a huge amount of running every game. (I think perhaps the running itself was enough to discourage them from future participation!)
I know there have been other World Cup Soccer tournaments over my lifetime, and I suppose I must have been living in a bubble not to have noticed them until now. Nevertheless, now that I’m aware of this quadrennial ritual, I’m amazed how many people are caught up in the events — and the number of others who feel like me (totally bored).
When my grandson and his best friend recently started talking soccer, they might as well have been conversing in a foreign language. (Grandson’s friend grew up in Indonesia where soccer obviously generates more interest and enthusiasm. At one time in his youth, Grandson played LaCrosse and has now learned more about soccer from his friend.)
As the cartoon above relates, I’m absolutely befuddled by the entire event. Here’s what I’ve learned so far. Instead of counting down, the time clock goes up! Sometimes, the end of the game is extended; I haven’t yet figured out why. Teams that lose don’t necessarily face elimination. The penalties, the yellow cards, the rules that govern … I’m not even close to grasping these finer points!
Like the cartoon dad above, I’m convinced baseball definitely makes more sense to me. And American football? Before I married my Beloved, I knew I’d be a football fan because he was; it was the best way to spend time with him, so I learned the game.
Perhaps if my Beloved had loved soccer, I’d know more about it today. I blame my ignorance entirely on him!