Some people are fanatical about sports and other people couldn't care less. Before I married Dh, I would definitely have said that I did not understand the sports frenzy. I grew up in a home where sports were almost invisible. Dad's family, when he was growing up, consisted of four boys and a father who was obsessed with sports. There was tremendous pressure on all of them to achieve (and they did, dad's eldest brother went on to a major U.S. university on a track scholarship) and for dad, sports came to represent all the things that he didn't like about his father (who was a very hard man as a father, although he seemed to discover his heart when his grandchildren arrived) and the family dynamic. Dad embraced theatre and music and hated anything to do with sports.
Then, Dh came into my life. He is English and grew up with a father who was an avid soccer fan. They hated hockey and hockey culture (I'm with them on that, no offense to anyone) but soccer was a connection to where they came from and the family far away. In the years before all the digital channels, it was a rare thing for them to get to watch the E.P.L. and when they did, it was a treat. Dh has taught me to really love the game and what it represents to our family. Here are my reasons for why it's "the beautiful game."
1. It's a connection for Dh and my kids to where their family comes from. It's a way of identifying with the family in England and the culture that they come from. For me, it's a glimpse into Dh's past and his family.
2. It's something that we can do as a family, whether it's wearing our jerseys together, going to Pk's soccer practice and game on Wednesdays or my parents-in-law coming down to watch the big game. It's not an activity that belongs to a few of us, we can all be involved.
3. It's an "every man's" game. While you can spend thousands if you want to, all you need is a ball and a pair of shoes (and even they don't need to be official). I love watching some of our favourite players knowing that they come from third world countries and have been able to make it to the top.
4. It brings back so many memories with my kids. With Pk, it was Dh walking her in figure-eights in our rec room when she hit her colic times every evening. They walked miles while he watched the game and comforted her while I stressed about what was wrong. LB was born at the beginning of the World Cup and the nurses referred to our room as "the hive" since we watched every game in our room and the sound of the vuvuzelas created a constant drone in the room. When we returned home from the hospital, Dh set up the cable and a t.v. in the bedroom and for our babymoon, LB and I spent a great deal of time nursing and dozing and watching the World Cup.
5. It's a really exciting, athletic game. Some sports involve a lot of standing around or strength without necessarily the stamina. Dh loves to tell of an "ultimate athlete" competition he heard about that has been won by a soccer player year after year when in competition with athletes from other sports. Running for 90 minutes straight with very little rest time and a clock that keeps running makes for a very exhausting game.
6. Soccer is a very exciting game. Unlike some sports, the score stays low and every goal counts. The games are often very, very close and one game matters... finals are not best of seven, they are based on one game. That makes it very intense!
7. It's a game that kids can get into early. Most of our town plays and it's a very reasonable price compared to other sports. Most of the kids in our town play and it doesn't seem to matter whether they are especially athletic or not. Lots of Pk's friends play and we get to visit with many of our local friends every week.
8. Pk's daddy is her coach and I think it's wonderful that she can share this experience with him. I suppose that any sport can be like that but with this, there isn't a real separation between coach and players like there is in some sports. He's putting in a lot of time with her and she knows it.
9. Best of all, we don't have to worry much about anyone getting hurt. Several of the most popular sports these days have alarming rates of head and neck injuries and with soccer, while injuries are not impossible, they are much less common, especially life-threatening ones.
I'm off to watch Portugal play Germany. Dh and I will be busy until the Euro tournament is over (and, I might add, my FATHER, of all people, is now hooked and supports the Netherlands). Go, England!