A few weeks ago, I went to my son’s final day of soccer camp. (I know, he’s only 4, but in Brookfield they start them early…and I should add that his mom and dad have plans to move to England in 10 years to watch him play for Manchester United.) Anyway, because it was the final day, the coaches set up a game of kids vs parents. We were told beforehand that the kids would win, but that we shouldn’t be afraid to score maybe a goal or two.
Well, I was pretty pumped because I hadn’t taken the field for a soccer game in years. I realized that most of my opponents were more interested in playing with their shin guards and wandering off to the dandelion area, but that was OK – this was a soccer game and I was ready. As I stretched (hoping to avoid an embarrassing old man injury – a 5 minute game against 3-4 year olds is a prime OMI situation), I was overcome with a thought that I couldn’t shake: how would people react if I tried my absolute hardest? I had visions of knocking kids over, keeping the ball away from kids until they cried, scoring emphatic goals (breaking the small plastic goals in the process), then celebrating obnoxiously and of course, talking tons of trash (“both you AND your mom suck”). I kept thinking “what would people say? How would they explain to their kids why the kids lost the game 22-0, why an aggressive old man celebrated so wildly after goals and why so many of the children got injured?”
Fortunately, these thoughts left me just on time and the result was a humiliating 5-0 defeat to 3-4 year olds. The other parents seemed fine with this…though it must have been apparent I wasn’t when my son offered his gold medal to me saying “here dad, this is for trying hard – and don’t worry, like you said, everybody loses sometimes”.
“At least you scored…” I said, fighting back the tears.