Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Blind Soccer

As soon as I start to feel wistful and wimpy and sorry for myself for not getting to play soccer, my sister sends me this link about blind soccer players. There’s a World Blind Football Championship played every few years (this year Brazil was the winner). It’s really inspiring to watch and makes me feel exceptionally guilty for complaining about my temporary injury.

If you’re like me, and wondering ‘how on earth would blind soccer work?', I’ll give you the short version. The players use a ball that has bearings in it so they can hear it coming. There’s no throw-ins, and they play on smaller fields. The goalies can see. (In the clip I watched, the goalies seem perhaps even more psycho angry when they got scored on than some of the FIFA World Cup goalies – I guess you feel like a pretty serious knob when you can see, and you’re using a smaller net than usual, and a blind player can still score on you. I even saw one goalie score an own goal. Hee hee.)

It’s all very carefully edited on youtube, of course, so we don’t see what must be part of it-- the moments when everyone is standing around and no one has the ball. (The sighted goalie has to stay in his goalie box, otherwise, I’d imagine he’d be tempted to run up and swipe it from people all the time.) I was at first a bit disappointed that I saw only individual scoring efforts—you know, someone dribbling up with the ball, and dekeing around the defenders by himself to score, rather than give and go passes—but then I had to remind myself dude, they’re blind. It’s easy to forget because they’re very good.

If I was in charge of blind soccer, there’s only a few things I would change. First of all, why must they wear those masks that look like they’ve been cut out of sanitary pads? I understand the idea of wearing a mask, naturally, because some blind people have slightly more sight than others and this could provide an obvious advantage, but can’t they make the masks cool and black, like something Batman might wear? It would be much sexier. Also, the trophy they win in the end – does it have to look like a clear glass vase someone picked up at the dollar store? I know they’re blind, but they just won the blind World Cup. Let’s give them an actual trophy. And lastly, let’s not spray them with champagne in the end, when they do win. The poor fellows just stand there kind of sadly, getting wet, because they can’t see enough to know how to escape the spray, and they’re not frolicking in the joy of it, they’re just putting up with it.

Otherwise, it’s all good. You should watch it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I'm Gonna Be Sedated

It has been 100 days since I last played soccer. (I counted.) During this dull, dull, period in my life, some minor things have changed for the better - my toenails, for example. They look amazing. The other day I had to cut them. They didn’t just turn black and fall off. Is this how normal people deal with their feet? I never knew.

But 100 days, come on, that’s, like, forever. Have I earned the right to rant and complain? Maybe. Do I miss playing? Absolutely. I have taken the liberty of making a list of things I miss about playing soccer:

I miss sunny, cool Wednesday mornings and being outside, laughing with my friends.

I miss listening to Rudie Can’t Fail by the Clash. (This was the song I always listened to before I played because I superstitiously thought it was keeping me from getting injured. Now every time I hear it, I have to turn it off. I even miss the na├»ve feeling that a song could somehow protect me….)

I even miss having handfuls of little black rubber things in my cleats after I take them off when I’ve played on the turf. (But I must admit, my vacuum cleaner works a lot better now that it isn’t clogged with that stuff all the time.)

I miss running up and down a field in unison with a whole field of players while we follow the play. Wait - Did I just say I miss running? Well, that kind of running, yes.

I miss feeling guilty about not taking a turn in goal because I suck at it.

I do not miss that numbnuts who plays left wing. I ran into him in Starbucks the other day and he talked my ear off about the World Cup, and he is still annoying.

I miss sitting in the pub after soccer and drinking Sleeman’s Honey Brown on Monday nights.

I miss that feeling of FREEEEEEE when I left the house on a Monday or Thursday night, with someone else watching the kids, where I could crank up the music in the car, and run around with a ball like a kid and escape being a tired old mom for a while.

I miss how we’d be on the field, running, and one of the guys would belch loudly after drinking too much water, and then yell loudly, ‘Cathy!” as if I’d done it.

I miss taking corner kicks. I saw so many lousy corner kicks in the World Cup. What were they doing?! Maybe if my surgery goes well, in four years, at the next one, I’ll be able to help them out....

I do not miss putting on my neoprene brace when it was still sweaty from playing soccer the day before. It was like having to wear a wet bathing suit. Ick.

I miss showing up a little early on Wednesday mornings and practicing penalty kicks on the turf. My god, I was good at that. Sometimes, now, I feel I can do some things somewhat successfully. I could cook something and it might taste not bad, or I could teach something in my class and my students might really get it, or I could write something okayish and people might like it– but that – kicking penalty kicks – I know I was good at that. I miss knowing I was really, really good at something.

My surgery is scheduled for October 14. Soon, right? Not soon enough.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Soccer Mom II

Stereotypes suck. People don't like to be placed into oversimplified categories of others who are supposedly just like themselves. I like to imagine, for instance, that there are cops who don’t care for donuts, or Mexican folks who do not wear sombreros. As a soccer player and a mom, I am particularly troubled by the stereotype of the Soccer Mom.

Now I know some political pundits feel we probably need a patronizing term describing white, middle class suburban moms whose main duty in life is to drive their kids to after school activities in a minivan, but can’t they be called something else? Minivan Moms? At least that has alliteration.

In my last blog I posted the Family Guy clip in which a soccer mom is mistaken for a man, perhaps due to her deep gravelly voice, hairs sprouting from her chin, or the way she knocks Peter’s beer out of his hand. If you look hard enough, there are definitely some other dodgy profiles of soccer moms you will find in pop culture. Some examples:

• there is a Soccer Mom movie starring Emily Osment (the lesser known sister of Haley Joel Osment of Sixth Sense fame). I can’t necessarily give this movie a definite thumbs down because I refused to rent it after reading in its review that it was “warm-hearted”, and its story was a “wacky charade”. Sounds terrifying. I think we can all agree that things that are described as ‘wacky’ should be avoided whenever possible.

• I found a book of soccer mom poetry (!) called “Suburban Antacid: Poetry for Soccer Moms”. The blurb called it ‘the perfect cure for….those with spouses who don’t replenish the toilet paper'. Barf. It had a wacky (see above) cartoon of a driving mom on the front. I believe used copies were available to buy on Amazon for 1 cent each. Shocking.

• There is a minor character in a Tom and Jerry’s cartoon whose name is Soccer Mom. She describes her ‘likes’ in life as casseroles, gardening and Thomas Kinkade paintings. She then drives into quicksand and is unable to make any decisions about how to save herself without her car’s Onstar system. Unfortunately if I were to be drawn as a cartoon, I would look exactly like her. Here she is (see the resemblance?) , and in case you are lucky enough not to know about Thomas Kinkade, here is one of his paintings:

So I move that we get rid of the negative stereotype of the soccer mom. Can we still call it soccer mom, but have some actual soccer associated with the term? I’ll go first:

I'm a soccer mom! My 'likes' in life are:
- kicking things (if it can’t be a soccer ball, I also don’t mind kicking either casseroles or Thomas Kinkade paintings)
- ranting when things don’t go my way
- sleeping.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Soccer Mom

I wanted to write something about the term Soccer Mom but I got totally distracted by this clip...