Actually, Five Year Olds Playing Soccer Isn’t The Worst Thing In The World
When my sweet, darling child was born, I wondered about my first parent-on-parent fist fight connected to a youth sporting event.
I assumed two things: I’d be younger and faster (I am surprisingly quick) than most. And I could pretty much count on one thing: Due to my rather Hobbit-like stature, I’d be able to catch the approaching slobbering Gargantua by surprise, lay a solid sucker punch and run.
I’m no fool. I play to my strengths, even if cowardice is one of them.
Sports were and are going to be a part of my child’s life. It was a gigantic part of my childhood up until high school when I got interested in music and girls and learned that music (see: guitar) could mean a band, which would, in turn, attract girls. Still, for a solid decade my year was not compartmentalized by seasons, but by leagues.
Baseball in the summer. Soccer and basketball in the fall. Then winter and spring soccer.
My wife – despite her self-admitted clumsiness – is quite athletic. She could probably have had done well in several sports, but her drug of choice was tennis. Pushing our five-year-old, Gwen, into sports was second nature.
Weeks ago, Gwen got her first taste of organized team sports. Namely, soccer. She was pumped to be on a team and to have a uniform. Luckily, she wound up on a team of seven other girls, most of which she knew, others she’d get to know and a team name: the Pink Panthers. (Funny note: Gwen said that our black lab should be on a soccer team and they’d be named the Black Panthers.)
Yes, there are uniforms. As you would guess: Pink with black shorts and white knee-high socks with pink feline paw prints.
We’ve had a near miss (Gwen, on a breakaway in practice, got tangled up and missed the goal post and a trip to an emergency room by a mere three inches, much to the horror of every parent on the sideline) and a number of moments of annoyance, which, I admit, are not hard to come by with me.
For one, I don’t trust our soccer association. I typically trust those in authority, to a fault. However, there are a lot of parents paying a lot of money to have their children play a game with barely any overhead and a maintenance ceiling of a lawn mower. Meanwhile, a number of local companies have purchased sponsorships and we have to pay for our own uniforms.
(Author’s note: I deleted some things here. It’s for the best.)
This Saturday was the Pink Panthers’ coming out party: Soccer Fest. Two mini-games sandwiched between copious amounts of grabass.
And I will admit it, having lived through my first game as a father: I will be that dad. I sincerely believe I acted appropriately. I cheered for both teams. I was always positive. I was a good sport.
However, it’s clear that if anyone within the next 10 years is going to get punched by some mustachioed, Old Milwaukee-drinking farmer, it’s me (actually, there already existed a considerable high chance anyway, with or without soccer).
I may have been appropriate. I was not graceful. When Gwen and her friend and teammate Mattie charged down the field to score the Panthers’ first goal, my arms launched into the air (I was already standing … the entire game) and I screamed like it was the World Cup.
It wasn’t great soccer. It was a series of breakaways and whichever team could run fastest and capitalized won.
Actually, no one “won,” as you might imagine. There was no score kept. All in good fun, friendship and sportsmanship.*
*(The Pink Panthers were victorious 2-1 in the first game and lost 2-1 the second. Gwen with a goal and an assist.)