Remarks are negative, but not ignorant
"... Along comes the legitimate World Cup of soccer, correctly known as the game of football throughout the world we live in, played skillfully by virtually every nation on this Earth including these United States, and celebrated this year in Germany. A plethora of negative remarks begins yet again by numerous columnists and sundry, who exalt their ignorance and show little respect for the many thousands of boys and girls in our own back alleys, parks and tournaments, who enjoy the discipline and skills, plus a high level of fitness, of the most popular spectator sport on this Earth. ..."
-- John L. Werrill,
Letter to the Editor
WELL, John L. Werrill, letter-to-the-editor writer, that is just the same old soccer-snob stereotype. Why, we are the Star-Bulletin, home of Mr. Al Chase, soccer columnist extraordinaire. And I, a sundry, once played soccer at Lahainaluna High School.
Yes, that's right. Columnists and sundry, and soccer. It's true.
It is a long and winding tale. There were no back alleys, parks or tournaments, little discipline, nil skill. Kind of a medium fitness level. A few spectators. It was, however, on Earth. That much does sound familiar.
It came down to this: Lahainaluna was good in basketball, and I was not. You had to go on a diet in order to join the wrestling team, and I would not.
I was a freshman with too much energy and the desire to somehow earn a varsity "L". And there it was -- soccer.
There was no poetry, there were no samba songs. This was not, as Al Chase describes it (or maybe it is the Brazilians, I keep forgetting which), "The beautiful game."
This was more like the movie "Slap Shot," on grass.
(Slapstick on grass.)
The people who had played the game before, we put up front. I was in back. As the last line of defense, my job was to 1) kick the ball out of bounds, 2) knock the other guy down. This was our strategy. It was great fun.
We had to play against a greatly skilled Baldwin team, a team so good it had its own Brazil-like following: the Baldwin Bears soccer bus. (An old manapua van painted powder blue.) The Baldwin Bears soccer bus had a loudspeaker that gave running commentary throughout the game. Stuff like, as I once came off the field: "Wot? You tired?"
Soccer is legendary for its cheers.
The shining moment in my memory came when our goalie got kicked out of a game ("Slap Shot" on grass) and our backup goalie, Jason Kipilii -- another guy who had never played soccer before -- had to go in. It's tough to describe what a kolohe rascal Jason Kipilii was, but the best example might be when he suffered a horrific broken-arm injury: As they shut the doors on the ambulance to take him to the hospital he was shouting that this meant tomorrow he didn't have to go to school.
Things, understandably, got a little more freewheeling with Jason out there. It wasn't long before there was a penalty kick, one-on-one, a sure goal against our untested guy. The opponent lined up the ball. He kicked. We winced.
He stopped it! Somehow, he stopped it! We rejoiced. We all ran toward him like we'd won the national championship. Kipilii held the ball to the sky and crowed: "We going McDonald's!"
You just know those guys from Ghana were screaming the same thing.
THERE YOU GO, my soccer credentials. I have played the beautiful game, though it was considerably less beautiful while I was playing it.
And so it was that I could not sleep yesterday, when our boys played in the World Cup in the middle of the night. Mostly, I could not sleep because it seems my cat is a huge soccer fan. At 4 a.m. she started meowing incessantly, then meowing incessantly and jumping on me. (Which, coincidentally, also takes discipline and skills, plus a high level of fitness.)
It went on forever. I was a zombie. My semiconscious state was shattered by the alarm clock at 5:30 in the morning.
Why is the alarm clock going off at 5:30 in the morning?!
"That's what time I get up," my wife said.
Oh. (It is?)
I was in actual physical pain at this point. But the cat had won. I was up. We turned on the game. Too late. The USA had already lost, 2-1. I let loose with a plethora of negative remarks.
Maybe John L. Werrill is right. Maybe soccer and columnists just don't mix.