Saturday afternoon, after Miss T’s first soccer game of the weekend, we were heading home and I may or may not have behaved badly. Contrary to what I just wrote the other day about Zen and not resembling the Great Santini, I found myself getting down on my youngest daughter about her team’s lack of aggression on the pitch. There were a few factors at work. The game started at 7:30am, which meant we needed to be there at 6:30ish. Do the math and you can understand that waking up in the 5am hour after a late party the night before may or may not have made me slightly churlish.
Here’s the deal: possession is nine-tenths of the law in soccer. You gain possession by getting to the ball faster than your opponent, period. It’s about speed, sure, but more than that, it’s about confidence and aggression. Did I mention I was tired yesterday? So Miss T got a lecture on the way home in between games and that did not make her love me more.
We sullenly walked into the house. She retreated into Instagram and I grabbed the newspaper along with a cup of coffee. In the Los Angeles Times LATEXTRA section (annoying name, right?) there was the bold headline about Jerry Sandusky. I’d heard already that they’d found him guilty on almost every charge but I wanted to read the details about this horrible man and gnash my teeth. When I reached the end of the piece on page AA4, I turned to the page opposite and saw this headline: “Philadelphia church official found guilty of sex-abuse coverup” and read that article because I was not angry enough already. The detail of the Sandusky case that makes me foam at the mouth is the picture of strapping Mike McQueary, a then graduate assistant at Penn State, walking into the locker room and seeing Sandusky raping a boy in the shower. Instead of physically stopping the act, McQueary “slammed his locker door to let Sandusky know someone else was in the room.” So brave. That’s right up there with Philadelphia’s Monsignor William J. Lynn telling the court, about reassigning pedophile priests instead of reporting them to police: “I did my best with what I could do.” Atta boy.
This afternoon, at Miss T’s end-of-season AYSO party, the coach – a lovely man who is taking the girls into club soccer come September – reminded us of why we’re staying together. It’s not first and foremost about our daughters winning soccer games. We recognized among us a group of parents raising their children the same way – to be confident, work hard, and look out for each other. We’d just as soon see our daughters help a fallen opponent as score a goal. That’s the truth. And if we’re successful, we will have raised citizens of the world with enough moral character to never look the other way, to never pass the buck, to ask simply, “If not me, then who?” We will have raised daughters like Ohio high school track star Meghan Vogel.
That said, I’ll still be yelling “First to the ball!” on the sidelines because I can’t help myself. For that, Miss T, I apologize. It’s your lot in life to have a fanatical sports fan for a mother.
Also read Maureen Dowd’s New York Times piece “Moral Dystopia” from last weekend. It has nothing to do with soccer.