I’ve decided to add the soccer field to an elite list of places adversely affected by temperature, hot or cold.
Before Thursday, there were only two places on the list, and since the list was so short, I’d never considered actually putting it on paper. With the third addition, I still don’t think it’s necessary, but so you’ll know, I’ll do that quickly.
Cemeteries and fair barns and soccer fields have a couple of things in common: If it’s hot, those places will be at least 20 degrees hotter. If it’s cold, those places will be 20 degrees colder.
So, Thursday night, we were on the cold side. I mean cold. Not freezing, but cold and breezy enough that my jacket and gloves were inadequate and the half-hour half seemed like it lasted for an hour or more.
And it was not half over.
OK, OK, OK. It doesn’t take me long to be done with a soccer game, I’ll admit. Even if we’re ahead and Thursday night we weren’t, I forget we came to have fun. I only stand through all the rough and bad weather conditions because someone I love is out on the field and I'm her Number 2 fan. Her dad has the Number 1 place.
I’ve given up on toting my semi-comfortable folding chair to the sideline. I can’t stay seated and I don’t need to be bringing so much baggage. That rule could apply emotionally as well as physically.
Oh, another thing about soccer games. They never play them at the right time. There’s the dreaded early – 8 a.m. –Saturday game or the week-night 7 p.m. game that, played in February, means the sun’s already gone down, and it is likely to be cold. The regular season 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. games present their own not very easy to love issues.
Huddled into what I thought was my best or warmest jacket Thursday, I let every discomfort parade across my mind, and tried to do a quick calculation of how long I’d been doing this. I remember my dad’s delight in the ’90s of knowing or being a father to the politically labeled “soccer mom.” I, with my van and three boys, qualified in spades.
Things have changed as much as they have stayed the same. I’m a soccer grand-mom now, and pretty well versed in the basic requirements of the getting ready and getting there, but as I learned first game of the season last fall, one girl today is a little more maintenance than three boys were back then.
She’s worth it, of course. Whatever the sport (and she plays baseball, soccer, volleyball, basketball and runs track) she shows up to get it done, win or at least let everyone know she came there to do that. She’s fast – so fast that at most games even the opposing team’s fans take notice – and she is considerate to fellow team members.
Her style seems to communicate, “Here, let me get this ball to you so you can score.” Or “Here, let me risk life and limb to get this ball out of ‘their’ scoring range.”
We’re playing in what the San Angelo Soccer Association calls the winter “school” season. It is recreational soccer and co-ed, but the teams are determined by the players’ school affiliations.
Thursday, “we” were playing the cross-town rival and – I hate it that this happens – but it always has and seems to be well in place to continue. Facts and rationality aren’t what keep the rivalry going. Reputation and perception do. One school has the reputation of being the privileged and powerful, the other the perennial underdogs.
And yeah, we’re the latter, and wish we had all their advantages. Why does the ref favor them? Why is there an invisible screen around our goal that deflects our perfect shots? Why do they never miss?
No, now is not a good time to confuse any of us with logic.
We’re cold, and tired, and our players are hurt.
By Friday of course, everything should be OK. Sometime in the night, each of us in our own way will remember it was just a game, and in the grandest of schemes didn’t count for anything – no place in history, no big trophy, no real proof that one deserved to win more than another.
The ideal would have been for one team to win with grace, the other to lose with dignity and everyone to have fun. Unfortunately both sides and all the fans missed that goal by a long shot.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Candace Cooksey Fulton is a freelance writer, editor living in San Angelo, Texas. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.