Yes, I have been watching the World Cup. Yes, I was disappointed when USA lost to Belgium. Yes, my brother-in-law is thinking to himself, "See Chris, I told you so?"
For years, my brother-in-law has been telling me soccer is a superior sport as compared to football (American gridiron football). He is two years older than me and he played soccer from 5th to 12th grade. I played football from 5th to 12th grade. So, of course, we would argue about it back in the 1980's, and a typical discussion went like this:
"Football players are rather stupid, hitting each other in the head and barely even having to run."
"Oh yeah Jeff? Well...soccer players are pretty boys and nerds. They are playing soccer because their mommies won't let them get hit...poor babies!"
"Oh yeah? At least most soccer players can add and subtract - - most football players need tutors just to pass art class."
"So what? Football players have great heroes and role models like OJ Simpson and Lawrence Taylor. Who are your heroes, Pele? He can't even speak English."
On and on our arguing went, and then he said something that was quite prophetic, and it made me crazy: "Just wait Chris, when you have sons, I will bet they will play soccer!" "NOOOOO WAAAAY!!!!"
Guess what? Both my boys have played years of soccer....BUT....they have also played years of football. And as a dad, I am torn. My heart wants them to love football, but they are pretty good at soccer. And what is even worse, watching the World Cup was...I hate to admit it...exciting!
So what am I to do? Should I encourage my boys to play that wimpy sport and let them keep kicking around a silly round ball while they are wearing shorty shorts? Or should I allow them to be subject to more "manly" head-knocking and possible concussions?
But I have two huge concerns with soccer:
(1) I don't want my boys to learn how to flop. Soccer makes me mad - - because let's face it, it produces liars. You touch a soccer player with your pinkie finger and he starts rolling in the turf acting like you shot him in the chest with a 44 magnum. Embarrassing...
(2) I want my boys to be 100% American men, and for me, football bleeds red, white and blue. For years I have held tightly to the dream that wearing a helmet and shoulder pads is what a man is in America. And now, after watching soccer live on tv....I hate to admit it...but some of those European guys have really cool hair-cuts!
So what shall I do? It is true, soccer doesn't seem to have as many crazy dad's yelling at their kids as football does. Everyone gets to kick the ball in soccer; where in football the coach usually has his son playing quarterback or running back. And football favors the big fat kids. Whereas, my kids are stealth and sleek and fast, which works well in soccer.
This is a hard choice because my sons fit well with the proper athletic prototypical soccer player...but I want to force them to continue to play football because it is what I like! And secretly, I don't want my neighbor down the street calling my kids sissies? Come to think of it, one of my sons has an Italian name that would fit right in on the Euro league...
So many decisions, so many questions, what should I do? All I know is that it is two days away from the 4th of July, and as a good American, I think I will go outside with my boys, pick up some baseball mitts and play some catch!