I experienced three very different soccer games this weekend. Here's how they went.
Seth's varsity soccer game was Friday afternoon. Pouring rain. He's been injured so the coach didn't start him. So he was annoyed. Then he got in and a kid on the other team barreled toward him in the box and Seth locked eyes with him and saw his fate, so he stuck out his elbows and knee and clocked the kid, who lay quivering until dragged off. (Note: last year's first game with this ridiculously violent team, Seth's foot was intentionally stomped and he was carried to the bus and went straight to the hospital. I couldn't blame him for defending himself this time.) Seth's coach didn't see the play, but when he found out who leveled the other kid, he took Seth out even though the ref didn't call a foul. This *ANGERED* Seth who walked off the field and ripped off his jersey. (Not a good thing for a team captain to do.) Stan, standing on the hill above him yelled, "YOU PUT THAT BACK ON!" And he did. But the coach was already mad at him for doing it, so he sat the bench for the remainder of the game, which they lost. Remember, it was raining, pouring...Sean was rolling down the hill in a white t-shirt, white socks and Birkenstock sandals and Luke wore his brand new sneakers, which got soaked. So we could watch ... that.
Next game was Sean's, Saturday morning. Six to 8 year olds running willy nilly around a field, some toward the ball, others decidedly away from it. Twice during the game I had to redirect Sean back onto the field, as he kept skipping off it to me to ask various questions like, "Can we go over there to the stream after the game and wade around?" They lost something like 6 to nothing but I don't think they noticed.
Next game was Sunday afternoon, 95 degrees, 86% humidity. All the parents sat far back in the shade while the kids played hard in the murderous heat. Our team only had one substitute, the other team had 7. Our kids were dying. At the end of the game, one of our defenders simply refused to go back in, so no one else could get a break. The team lost. Luke was red as a beet and pouring sweat. When he got home he boosted himself up on the island in the kitchen and I pulled off his cleats, shin pads and socks as well as his jersey and wiped him down from head to toe with a cold wet cloth. "I have a headache," he started, "and during the game it hurt when I looked straight ahead...and my ears ached...and I felt like I was going to faint...." He took a shower and recovered.
And we'll do it all over next weekend with different weather, different teams, different outcomes....I hope.