Sunday, October 18, 2009

Turning into a sports fan

We had an AWESOME day today!  Barley's soccer team was in the Rec league championship, and it was fun to watch!

I've never been a sports fan.  Never saw the point in watching other people play games, but I find it much more interesting to watch someone I know and love.  I remember my brother going through a similar adjustment to become a hockey fan, when his boys started playing as teenagers.

So, soccer is apparently going to be the family spectator sport.  Barley is gifted with great hand-eye coordination that the rest of the family lacks.  He is also stubborn, and can be laser focused if the subject interests him.  He is both physical and aggressive--which, in combination with his temper, has been a problem in family life.  In contrast, it helps him in playing a contact sport.

We've tried flag football, and while Barley handles the ball very well--he threw up on the field the first day of the season.  Not a good start.  The heat in Morgan Hill was too much for all of us--we did not really enjoy it much.  We tried baseball, but after I beaned Barley in the head when he was 5, he's never really been interested in trying that again. Teddy likes karate, and we are trying to find time for that.  We won't let Barley take karate until he gets his anger management under control, though.

Today, he played defense for most of the game.  The other team had one player who stood a head taller than most of his teammates.  I think he was even a little taller than Barley, who also towers over his friends.  We don't know why he and his brother are so tall--DH and I are not giants by any stretch.  I usually tell DH not to think about that too hard.  Sometimes we joke that Barley takes after my 6'2" father, which is implausible since I am adopted.

Anyway, tall #12 was the other team's top player.  He was all over the field, and the one driving the ball from one end of the field toward our goal--and Barley was right there to stop him most of the time.  When #12 was on his first breakaway, driving toward our side of the field, Barley got in front of him like a brick wall.  He stopped the ball with his foot, and at the same time, #12 tripped over the suddenly stopped ball, which he had been about to kick past Barley. While #12 got back on his feet, Barley dribbled the ball back to the other side of the field, and passed to one of our Forwards.   It was a beautiful thing to watch! 

They were a good match for each other, and the only goal the other team scored was when Barley was off the field.  He had gotten kicked in the ribs, and came off the field to recuperate.  #12 immediately took advantage of the opportunity to drive in a goal.  We were pretty nervous about the hole in our defense until the coach put Barley back in.  With him to keep #12 in check, that left the rest of our team to score another goal and put us into the win.

I am hoarse from cheering for Barley, of course, but also for our other 10 players.  We have several very talented goal kickers, and every player put forward great effort.  I have never enjoyed watching a sporting event as much as I did today.  It helps when you know who the players are.  For professional sports, I've never been motivated to learn, but the natural result of playing with many of the same kids and the same coach for 3 years has created that familiarity.  I only wish the league had let us keep our entire team together, as it would have been a sweeter victory with our former teammates sitting with us.

DH and I laughed for a moment to think we might actually have a kid who could qualify for some kind of sports scholarship when he grows up.  Not that Barley is headed for the Hall of Fame or anything.  We know this is unlikely, and a longshot.  But being the geeks we  both are, an academic scholarship was always more in our sights than an athletic one.  DH played tennis when he was in school, but I was always among the last kids picked for teams in gym class. To even be able to jokingly contemplate it is rich in irony.

Teddy, on the other hand, will have to go for music or creative writing.  Whatever they do, we will be proud of both of these guys.  And I LOVE how their interests are teaching DH and me new things and new interests.


  1. Watching Barley v. big #12 today was as gripping to me as any Ali/Frazier match, Yankees/Dodgers world series, or McEnroe/Connors Wimbledon classic. Seeing the effort and determination these 6 and 7 year old boys put forth for no prize greater than pride and bragging rights reminded me of all the power and human drama sports can provide at its best. I'm glad to see I wasn't the only one who was amazed!

  2. Although I used to watch pro football as a kid, keeping up with the Redskins as a family affair, I've not watched any sports in years and years and years. Except those played on the field by my own kids. Soccer is my favorite. Love the intensity, even when they're 5.

  3. Knowing your propensity for the academic over the athletic, it is very heartening to see a love of sports...allbeit soccer. I don't know where our innate ability for hockey came from either. We play on a level with guys that started years before we did.

    Barley takes right after Jack with the hand eye coordination. It's insane some of the things Jack can do with a puck.

    The most amazing thing of it all is the transformation I see in you, I saw in my father. He told me that he lost his love for hockey as a youngster and listened to Maple Leaf games on the radio. He's doesn't seem like he was a "sit still and listen" type.

    You both have adjusted well. It makes me smile some.


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