Thursday, October 30, 2008

Foxboro finale?

Shortly after Thursday night's First Leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals, it dawned upon me that it was likely my last visit to Foxboro for soccer football. Barring a New England EC semifinal victory (possible) and a Kansas City upset over Columbus (impossible), the Revolution have played their final home match of the season.

It's been a crazy, but fun season. I witnessed the first match of the season in section 103 with my mother, as we nearly succumbed to frostbite amid the 30 degree temperatures. With hot chocolate and seventeen layers of clothing acting as our only defenses, we survived to watch the Revolution beat the Dynamo 3-0.

In June, the soccer gods rewarded the region with another visit from Brazil. Even without Ronaldinho and Kaka', A Seleção thrilled the crowd but failed to beat an inspired Venezuela, losing 0-2. To me, there is no greater sports thrill than watching Brazil in person. The crowd. The seismic rumbles that reverberate throughout the stadium during the cheers and chants. The scantily-clad Brazilian mamis. All proof that God is indeed a football fan.

Doug Warren captivated us when he made his first start in nearly three years against D.C. United. A 2-1 victory for the Revolution, but more importantly, it was a testament to patience and class. And no one on the club deserved it more than Dougie, who is one of the absolute nicest guys in professional soccer.

Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the 4-0 loss Joe Public FC. Yes, it was likely one of the ugliest Revolution matches I’ve ever seen. Defenders looked like matadors. Midfield was shakier than the San Andreas. But it Gregory Richardson’s night. The Guyanan international single-handedly owned the pitch with a hat trick and an assist in one of the most singular performances I’d ever witnessed. The kid is going to be a star someday, wherever he plays.


Prior to the match, Sean Donahue and I traded updates on our school’s soccer teams. After mentioning the Anchorwomen’s 1-16-1 record, I was surprised to learn that Bryant’s men’s team is 1-14-1. Of course, the Bulldogs’ record is largely attributable to the fact that 2008 marked their first season in Division I.

Nevertheless, I took an odd solace that the Anchorwomen were not the only club in the state that sported an unflattering record.


While driving home for the Revs-Fire match with my final game in Foxboro nothing but a memory, I reflected on what my purpose was, as a soccer writer.

If you had told me five years ago that I'd be a credentialed member of the soccer media, I would have laughed right in your face – the kind of laugh where spit comes out because you’re trying to contain it. My face would have turned bright red, and tears would have escaped my eyelids. It would have been LMFAO to the one trillionth degree.

I’ve told the story of how I feel into this gig many times.* And last night was one of those nights where, as I briefly gazed upon the darkness of the night sky and saw the stars twinkle brightly through the top of my windshield on my way home, I smiled. That smile must have lasted seven miles* between 495 and 95.

(*Check the Thanksgiving entry in the November 2006 archives for the tale. I was pretty green back then.)

And it lasted through Sara Bareillis’ “Bottle It Up” blared through the car speakers.

I do it for love

(*I know that the context of that song has NOTHING to do with soccer, writing, or sports. But its timing just felt appropriate when it came on the radio.)

I thought of a John Updike quote I recently read that - to paraphrase - a writer who writes solely for money is a vulgarity. You can tell who does it for the paycheck, however small it is nowadays. I’ve always been a firm believer in this litmus test for sportswriters: if you don’t smile once – just once – because of something you witnessed on the field, you’re in the wrong profession. Attend a career workshop. Hire a life coach. This job is either not for you, or has passed you by.

Which brings me to my next point.


If there’s a reporter’s press box etiquette guide out there, I’d like to see it. And amend it.

While pounding away at my keypad crafting a sidebar last night, I overheard a conversation between two middle-aged writers on the other side of the box.

“I hope this is the last soccer game I have to watch this season,” said one.

“Me too," said the other. "I can’t believe I’m stuck here writing about this. And for who? The 5,000 or so people who were here? Ridiculous…"

“Seriously, who really cares about this? Does anyone actually care about soccer around here?”

Okay. I get it. You don’t like soccer.

You probably don’t understand it, either. That’s fine. I don’t understand a lot of things. Like mechanical engineering, for instance. But, I don’t barge into my brother’s classes and rip the field of engineering out loud. That would be extremely insulting to everyone on the room.

So don’t insult me. My job is to write on soccer. By disrespecting what I do, you are disrespecting not only me, but pretty much everyone else in the room.

So please, try to exhibit some class.

Next, if you don’t like soccer, don’t care for it, and would rather see it played elsewhere, like on the moon, fine. I don’t force my opinions on anyone. But failure to keep those thoughts to yourself in a room full of soccer reporters makes you sound like a bitter jackass.

Lastly – why are you here? If you don’t like your assignments, then go work for another publication. Don’t infect the box with your negative attitude which, I’m sure, was appreciated by no one but your tag team soccer hater. If you have nothing nice to say…

So, I hereto propose the following amendment:

Please refrain from broadcasting negative opinions and views about the event you are covering. Keep in mind that your peers likely enjoy what they do, and any disparaging remarks about the event may be construed as disrespectful.

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