So I am in the local bar and grill here in South Jersey. It's a great place: Good service, cold beer, good food. And they have a bunch of televisions, the huge HD kind and they have sports on all of them. On one of them, they are showing a soccer game from Europe. I believe that they were two of the top teams in the world. Now, I have no experience with soccer, zero kids played it when I was growing up and it was like a joke in the area of Maryland where I came from. Like, "Oh, why don't you go play soccer if you can't handle football." But nobody knew shit about it. Then, fast forward to many years down the road and now my kids were playing soccer. But really it was like, kick the ball as hard as you can and everyone crowd around the ball and there is one kid that's really good and he scores all the goals. One time, in six year old soccer, one little girl just stood by the goal yelling (in almost a sing song voice), "I'M WIDE OPEN!" over and over again. We still go around my house yelling, "I'M WIDE OPEN!"
I'm sitting there with my pain in the ass sons at this bar and grill and we are watching the television. I'm waiting for my kids to start going toe to toe as usual after some perceived slight or something or if one of them has one more french fry than the other, and I see a soccer pro guy on the TV lying on the ground. I'm like, what happened? Dude, let me tell you, he was kicking and screaming like he got shot by a sniper from the upper deck and then I watched the replay and nobody touched him. I asked out loud, "JUST WHAT THE HELL IS THAT ALL ABOUT?" And my 12 year old says, "Oh yeah, they do that all the time. "
So now I am wondering how anyone can fake an injury and then it happened again! (Imagine LT in 1983 doing that on the field.) Then this one guy gets bumped. Not hard. Like he was in a crowded place, like a mall or something. You know, "Oh, excuse me, I am sorry," and then you keep walking. Well, this guy goes flying into a wall and it looks like he hit his arm really hard, and then he flops on the ground and is going into convulsions and the other team is showing tons of concern, referees are flashing yellow cards in their hands, trainers are rushing onto the field with their medical bags. I mean ,it was a tragedy, they were hurrying like this guy was dying! And then they show the replay and his arm never hit the fence. He never touched it! He actually spun around like three times before he collapsed , just like a Looney Tunes cartoon from when I was a kid!
And as I watched the whole game, it kept happening over and over. I felt like I was in an alien world where everyone was in on the joke but me and I was dropped into a world of men who weren't really men but they were fake men! Like they didn't read the rules that said that a man should be stoic and tough when playing sports and to never , ever, show your opponent that he hurt you or that you were tired. In short, like my college coach said all of the time, "Rub some dirt on it and keep going."( He also used to say things like, "I don't want any of those no-see-em socks on you guys. That's what causes AIDS in this country." But that is definitely another story.)
And over and over, for the whole game, grown ass men were writhing on the ground with various maladies and then they would get up and jog off of the field. Some would run and everybody would clap and I was thinking again, I am like an outsider. I remember one time I was coaching football and one of my players was on the ground acting like he was dying. He broke his thumb. Snapped that damn thing. So I asked, "Whats wrong with the rest of your body?" "Stand up," I said. And he did and everyone started laughing but not in a derogatory way, like nobody ever thought of that before. Like, it's your thumb, not your legs, just stand up. And he was a tough kid, it just never occurred to him. I got that from my father. It was pretty much understood that unless someone brought a sword onto the football field and cut off both your legs, there was never any lying down on the field. That would have gotten me a comment like, you wanna go to the emergency room? And I would have never lived it down.
I didn't know that it was okay to act like the sky is falling and everyone would accept it.
And then my son says, "Oh, and Dad, you should see how they act in basketball when they take a charge." And I said, "I don't want to know!"