Soccer….Family Style

33 Years Later – Do You Believe in Miracles?
February 22, 2013, 4:06 pm
Filed under: Family Fun, Supporter Culture | Tags: , , ,

Several of my soccer friends are also hockey fans, and while I can’t appreciate how many Miracle players ended up playing for the Bruins (alas, too many of them are also from Boston, but I try not to hold it against them) it did get me thinking about this game and what it meant in my own world.

I was an eight year old kid the day the US played Russia in the Olympics in the game affectionately nicknamed “the Miracle on Ice.”  I was the daughter of a stay-at-home mom with a Masters in Education and a PhD research Chemist, so we had lots of talks about politics, science, and other geeky pursuits, and I was a bit of a tomboy. There were lots of boys my age on my block, and my Dad, not having any sons, taught me to play ball, fish, and to rotate tires. But my favorite thing to do with my Dad was watching sports. He would spend hours talking to me about various players, and intricacies of rules, it was probably the most concentrated extended attention I got from my Dad.

Of all the memories of all the games I ever watched with my Dad, the Miracle on Ice is the clearest. He had explained to me the political ramifications of the game, and as we watched it together, me laying on my belly, chin propped up on my fists. He became more and more agitated and excited as the game went on, and I was riveted. My father is a very intense man, but I’d never seen him so passionate about any game before in my life. And the more excited he became, the greater my need to understand what this game meant to him. This wasn’t “his” team, and it wasn’t even the medal match. My eight year old mind could barely fathom how this game could be so important to him, but as the minutes clicked off, I had to suspend reason and just enjoy watching history made, next to my Dad sitting on the edge of his big green recliner.

I’d like to think that February 22, 1980 was the first step on my path to becoming a soccer supporter. My father was so happy that day, and watching it was powerful enough to lock in a lifelong love of sports and national team. It allows me to cheer for the underdog, and gives me faith that one day, despite the US being decades if not centuries behind in love of soccer, one day, there will be the miracle on the pitch and my kids will watch me lose my mind over a World Cup final. It will probably never be the political laced sporting achievement that the Miracle on Ice was, but it will probably be enough outpouring of joy to make them sports fans for life.

Your USMNT Boyfriend
February 17, 2013, 10:43 am
Filed under: Family Fun, US Soccer | Tags: , , , , , ,

USMNTboyfriendI’m a little disappointed no one pointed this out to me before Valentines Day, since it’s perfect for my geeky USMNT loving little world. Mighty Mighty US  made this flow chart for finding your USMNT boyfriend (here’s there original post) which I find kinda awesome, with one exception. While I have to agree that the world is split into German speakers and non-German speakers, I must protest that there’s no option for Klinsmann for us German speakers. I think it’s the only way the flow chart will work for me. Maybe with a Boys/Men split before Bad Boys? I don’t know…but I just think he’s meant to be on here.

Thanks for the (belated) Valentines Day fun, Mighty Mighty US!

Robbie Rogers Comes Out By Blog Post Read By My 10 Year Old
February 16, 2013, 9:13 pm
Filed under: Major League Soccer, Supporter Culture, US Soccer | Tags: , , , ,

robbie respectI got the news of Robbie Rogers’ coming out via my 10 year old daughter reading his blog post aloud as I was driving, with her five year old brother listening. His message is a bittersweet and poignant reminder that our society is far from a welcoming utopia, but to hear his words through my daughter, and hearing my children’s reaction gives me hope.

It’s school intercession this week, and since the kids and I will be spending Spring Break in Denver, we’ve been working pretty hard on our house project (the blog/project that keeps me from posting more here). We were taking a drive out to southwest Iowa to check out a new fireplace mantle, listening to NPR, waiting for Science Friday to talk about the asteroid flyby (I know, I have a five and ten year old who ask to listen to NPR, we’re a geeky family, what can I say?) While we waited, they had an interview of some hateful man ranting about the Boy Scouts and gays, saying things that were nothing short of horrifying. I want my kids to know about the world, but do I really want them exposed to hatred?

They know homophobia exists. When my daughter was the flower girl in my Aunties’ wedding, our former next door neighbor found out that we (gasp!) don’t mind having gay friends and family, and had her daughter stop playing with my daughter. That was basically the last straw in staying in that house, and we soon moved to our current neighborhood, River Bend, which is much more in line with our world view:  economically and racially diverse, and is affectionately referred to as “the best damn gayborhood in Des Moines.” Viva diversity!

NPR turned to Science Friday soon enough, and we continued our mission for the perfect fireplace mantle. We were on our way back to Des Moines when my phone beeped the notification from a writer/soccer friend from AO Iowa City had just written me a Facebook message that just said “ROBBIE ROGERS!!!!!” in vaguebooking style of leaving message open to anything from Rogers in near-fatal accident to amazing trade/score/news. I wrote back “What?” and flipped open Twitter in attempt to answer my own question. It took no time to find this blog post in my feed, but since I was driving, I asked my 10 year old daughter to read it.

My kids are growing up Jewish in Iowa. They know what it’s like to be a minority and get teased for it. We talked about how hard it must be to feel like you have to hide who you are from everyone, even your family. When asked, my daughter said she didn’t think it should make a difference if a player is gay, full of child-like wisdom with “It’s who he is, all that should matter is how he plays.” Absolutely right, kiddo.

So we join in the outpouring of support for Robbie Rogers, which made me so proud yesterday, to read so much love and support for a player who really should only be famous for what he’s added as a player. While I look forward to the day when he wouldn’t have to have suffered so long with this secret, I’m so grateful that my kids got to share in his coming out message, and they now have a new role model for living an authentic life. Hopefully his step away from soccer will be short lived now that he knows the soccer fans and players can stay classy. Well done and best wishes, Robbie Rogers.

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