Thursday, March 25, 2010

First Kick with my father

Let me just start off by saying this: my dad knows almost nothing about soccer. And by "almost nothing," I mean like the closest fraction to zero without being zero.

He probably could not tell you who won the MLS Cup last year. He's asked, on more than one occasion, if the Revs are in the playoffs - in July. Oh, Dad. And, almost without fail, the very first question at the beginning of every match is, "who's favored?"- as if, you know, the guys in Vegas actually cared enough about MLS to put the lines out on their matches.

However, my dad is sharp. He's picked up on a few things. He knows about David Beckham, of course. He knows that Mexico cannot beat the U.S. on American soil. Oh, and he also knows that Matt Reis - "the bald guy," as my dad would say - is a pretty darn good keeper.

Having said all that, my dad has been my primary choice to watch a televised soccer game with for the past four years.*

(*I'm embarrassed to say that for all the soccer my dad's watched with me, he's never seen a live game. You would think that, at some point, it would dawn upon me that, 'hey, why don't I take him with me to Foxborough or Pierce Field or, heck, Fox Point to catch a game?' Now that I think about it: what kind of son am I? Man, I gotta get on this.)

And I think the reason is because he treats each match - whether it's either of the national teams, MLS, or NCAA - with a surprising amount of enthusiasm. It's weird. But it's a good weird.

I have my theories behind this good weirdness, of course. One is that it's in large part due to fact that my parents don't subscribe to Fox Soccer Channel or GolTV. I know. 'How did I live without it?' I don't know: I just did. So televised soccer only sneaks through about once or twice a week. It's just not a regular occurrence. That's one theory. Yet, I may have better one.

My second theory is that it's a byproduct of life in general. I sometimes think it's because we're getting older. I'll be 30 next year. He'll be 60 in June. Although he will always be my dad and I will always be his son, and that bond will never be broken, thankfully, we both acknowledge that we are very different men. He is a devout Catholic. I am a devout sports fan. He listens to the Temptations. I listen to Twista. He eats at Chelo's. I prefer Chili's. The list of our differences could go on.

But back when I was nine, my dad and I were the same. We both loved baseball. So as a kid, that meant we were the exactly like each other. He liked everything I liked. We'd watch the Red Sox almost every night. There'd be ongoing discussions about the DH rule, Roger Clemens, and Morgan's Magic. Then, it would turn to school. Later on, the neighborhood kids. Then, it would be back baseball again.

As I approached adulthood, the number of those Father and Son Sox games predictably waned. I wasn't waiting for my dad to come home and cook anymore.* I went out with friends, instead. And I'm sure that probably stung my dad a little bit.

(*Yes, my dad cooked. At first, it was because my mom was going back to school at night. Later on, it was because she worked third shift at the hospital. Needless to say, he had pick up a few "mom" responsibilities along the way. My dad - he can do it all.)

That common bond - the Red Sox - wasn't as strong. If it was, it certainly wasn't as strong. We didn't camp ourselves on the couch for baseball anymore. And when we did, it was typically limited to a handful of innings.

But, for some crazy reason, soccer - a sport that continues to escape him to this day - brings us together. And you know what? It hardly matters who's playing. To my dad, it's an event worthy of ordering pizza and wings. Although my dad could probably think of a bajillion other things he'd rather do, he nevertheless takes his spot on the loveseat, leans back, sometimes with a cold beer, sometimes with a Coke, shoots a quick look at the tube, and asks, "So, who's favored?"

So yeah, my dad doesn't know much about the beautiful game. But that's OK. What's more important is that he KNOWS - with absolute certainty - that his son loves the game of soccer with a passion. And this is more than enough for me.

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