Sports

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Trying Out for the Mite TeamDuncan, my oldest, will be trying out for a travel hockey team this season at the Mite level.

There will be two teams, one A team for the best players and a lower B team as well.

In the case a player doesn’t “make” either team during the tryout process, they’re sent back to a development team where they never play any actual games or wear real uniforms.

That’s the level he “played” in last season and the season prior.

Mite teams are generally made up of 7 and 8 year olds so with Duncan being just 6 years old, it might be a stretch for him to make the cut.

Tryouts consist of skill evaluation in the areas of skating, passing and receiving, stick handling, shooting, play making, and stamina.

And then they’re also evaluated in scrimmages to determine positional play and competitiveness.

I’ve been trying to prepare him for the past few weeks — he’s never had to knowingly “prove” himself before and being so young, it’s one of those things where if he’s in the right frame of mind, he’ll do fine but if he’s not feeling it that day, he’ll look like, well, someone who has no business trying out in the first place.

Not much middle ground, really.

It just so happened that this past week at swimming lessons that his instructor didn’t get into the pool with them and instead stood at the edge with a clipboard in hand.

Amazed, Duncan very clearly knew *exactly* what was happening — he was being tested on his ability.

Henrik, my middle son, well, he had a case of the giggles and likely blew any opportunity to move up a level… (update — both boys moved up a level)

Afterwards, I told him that what he’d just done in the pool was just like a tryout and I think it set him more at ease.

Funny story, though totally unrelated, about “fear” when it comes to the unknown.

When I was 9 years old, I made a trip to the emergency room (that resulted in a two week hospital stay) and every time the doctors or nurses mentioned a getting a “stretcher”, I pictured in my head some sort of medieval torture device that I’d be strapped to and, well, stretched…

If someone would have just said, “Kid, it’s a cot on wheels…”, I’d have been a lot more relaxed.

So, anyway, I think he’s relieved that he now knows what a tryout is and I’m also relieved that he’ll know kind of what to expect when the day comes.

Mite TryoutsI’m not at all worried about his skating. He’s a little slow in my opinion but still a strong skater and able to stop in either direction meaning he doesn’t have a preferred side.

His passing is better than his receiving but I think that’s par for the course at this age. I mean, it’s a pretty rare occurrence to receive at clean pass at this age anyway.

His stick-handling isn’t elite but he can deke around people and still keep the puck under control.

Stick handling is one of those things, though, that once you start to lose control of the puck, things can fall apart in a hurry.

I’m hoping that he finds a good rhythm on whatever sort of drill they’ll use to evaluate this skill.

His shooting is, well, terrible and far and away is biggest weakness.

Due largely in part to the fact that he’s barely ever had to play in a game with a goalie and it was rarely practiced on the development team.

We’ve been working on it at home lately but it’s an uphill battle. Strength is lacking and I’m certainly not going to have my 6-year old pumping iron.

Shooting Practice

His playmaking, from what I’ve seen in the Spring league games he played with (way) older children, is top notch. He knows where to be and how to get open.

Doesn’t so much matter when the kids refuse to pass (a common problem for most sports at this age) but he does have “hockey sense” and I’m thankful for that since it’s something you can’t teach.

Either you get it or you don’t.

Stamina concerns me a little. Often times, during the final few minutes of practice, he slows down. A lot.

All of the kids do but he goes so far as to start slumping his shoulders and looking up at the ceiling. I mean, his play really drops off.

And that plays into his competitiveness as well.

While he is very competitive (with the vocabulary to back it up) and wants to win all of the time, when he doesn’t get his way, or his team falls far behind, or he gets stopped repeatedly, or no one ever passes to him when he’s wide open, he’ll sometimes give up opting to glide around watching mostly.

Aggression takes a dive.

Effort is minimal.

And, frustratingly, that’s also something that can’t be taught.

He knows what to do and where to be…just doesn’t have the fire to actually do it sometimes and that will likely be the difference between making the team and not.

Tryouts start September 2.

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Coach McLellanOver the weekend I learned of the passing of my high school track coach.

He was 77 years old and in a nursing facility due to Alzheimer’s.

I call him my track coach but he was better known in Connecticut as a legendary football coach as well as “the” gym teacher at my hometown’s high school.

He started at the school in the early 1960’s.

Now, by the time I was in high school, in the 1990’s, he was like something you’d only seen in nostalgic “good old days” movies.

Big chested, big square teeth, brush cut, whistle around the neck, clipboard in hand, and a booming voice that wasn’t overly loud but came through clearly as a growl more often than not.

He was the epitome of the classic high school football coach that doubled as the gym teacher

No simple task for an older John Wayne type to be surrounded by a bunch of Gen-X’ers slipping into the grunge era — it must have been confusing to him — but, man, did he ever command respect.

And he got it too.

He wasn’t your friend, he was your coach — whether you were on one of his teams or not.

I remember running track when all of the other teams had started wearing long mesh basketball style shorts and leaving their over-sized singlets untucked.

We’d step off the bus with our short shorts and singlets tucked in like we were competing in the 1948 Olympic Games.

One classmate of mine, upon hearing of his death, mentioned that he’d wanted to get an earring in high school really badly, had his parents approval and everything, but refrained for fear that Coach would rip it out and was, now 25 years later, happy that he’d made the decision not to get one.

I doubt Coach would have ever actually said something like that out loud but I 100% believe that that’s the way he thought.

Glenn McLellanOld school.

For real, he was straight out of the 1950’s…in 1991.

Thinking back, I can only think of one guy in our high school that made the mistake of getting an earring. I can think of around 30 that got one once they were out of high school and out of Coach’s view.

The man clearly had an impact.

So, back in February, a former student of his (way older than I) posted on Facebook that she was doing some sort of volunteer work with comfort/therapy dogs in South Carolina and she’d walked into a room and saw a familiar face — Coach McLellan.

She posted a picture of Coach, still looking like a big strong gym teacher, and mentioned that Coach was suffering from Alzheimer’s related dementia and that his wife thought it was wonderful to see him light up reliving the “old” days — all but ignoring the dog in the room.

With that, I contacted my fellow alum for some contact details and wrote Coach a letter…the old school way…on paper the very same day.

I’m glad I did.

Here it is…

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – |
Hi Coach!
My name is ##### ###### and I went to AHS from the Fall of 1990 through the Spring of 1994.

I was mostly a rec-level athlete growing up so by the time I was in high school, and in your gym class, my athletic endeavors were pretty much coming to a close.

As such, my moderate athletic abilities were pretty much unknown to everyone — myself included.

In Grade 9, I had gym class during seventh period — at the very end of the school day. The group in our class was an unsual mixture with a handful of kids from all four grades — something that didn’t usually occur for gym or any class, really.

Not sure if it was a scheduling mix-up or what — it was a weird situation but for a ninth grader coming in, it was pretty intimidating — especially for someone that wasn’t considered extraordinarily athletic.

One of my first memories of that gym class was when you paired us up in twos for two-on-two basketball.

Basketball was never a strength for me and I think that was obvious to you. You paired me up with DS (name removed but he went on to became a professional athlete).

Imagine that — a freshman paired up with a senior who just so happened to be the star of the soccer and basketball teams…and pretty much the most elite athlete to ever attend the school. Crazy.

As a result, I thought it was pretty neat that he even knew my name. And I’ve got to admit that his abilities on the court actually kinda made me look good too.

I also remember that when the floor hockey session eventually came around in gym, I was somehow forced to do recreational dance with B.T. (the female gym teacher) instead.

In fact, during my four years in high school — I never once got to play floor hockey in the gym; the one activity I knew I’d excel at.

But my fondest memory came in the Spring of my freshman year.

My parents had always said things like “Make the most of the opportunities presented to you” but I’d never really been able to apply that to anything in my life at that point.

It was the day we had to run the mile down on the track for the Presidential Physical Fitness Test.

I’d always been “okay” at most of the tests — pull-ups were always very easy for me.

Running distance though, not so much.

So you had our whole class walk down to the track and set us off running.

Most of the girls walked.

The smokers walked slower.

I started off trying to stick with the “real” athletes like Larry, Ken, Jimmy and John (all jocks in the stereotypical sense) and was doing a pretty good job sticking with them.

Then I started to pull away from them.

And then I lapped them.

I remember thinking in my head as I began the fourth lap, “What on earth is happening?”

Seriously, it was like no one else was even trying…except they were.

The guy in the converse high-tops and argyle socks that couldn’t shoot a basket, was horrible at volleyball, and mediocre at soccer, should not have been leading the field.

By OVER a lap!

I remember crossing the finish line winded and you coming right over with the watch in your hand and a grin on your face and saying, “Brainy… you’re on my track team now.”

Perhaps it was my very first runner’s “high” but I really thought you were kidding.

That is, until we went back up to the school and you showed me where the track locker room (which I’d always thought was just for football) was.

Not even taking off my gym clothes, I went to the pay phone to call my dad — “I’d need to be picked up later. I’m joining the track team!

Now, it was kinda awkward to be the new guy on a team with so many upperclassmen.

And being the new guy who didn’t appear to have much athletic ability made it even more unnerving for me. And joining the team mid-season? Well, that was unheard of. And it certainly didn’t help that I was a little bit shy too…

But you took me into that locker room, introduced me to everyone and pretty much set my mind at ease.

Actually, I was scared shitless and felt really, really, out of place. I didn’t feel I’d truly earned the full backing of Coach McLellan, the legendary High School football coach.

But you did back me. 100%.

Even though you didn’t coach the distance runners directly, you made sure I was taken care of — and I can’t thank you enough for that.

That weekend, I went out with my dad and we bought some running shoes — really ugly Asics with horrible green and highlighter yellow trim that totally clashed with our uniforms.

Three school days later, I was on a bus to Stafford or Tolland or somesuch other outpost in Connecticut for a track meet and running the very first event of the meet and as the only runner from our school.

I finished “in the points” and, being my first real race, it was a personal best.

On the bus ride home, I sat with Joe Gillis — nicest guy around — and I remember thinking… I’d have been home watching tv with parents right now… but instead I’m a valued member of the track team and sitting with a popular senior on the bus talking about how we did in our events.

For a ninth grader, that’s a big deal.

So as the weeks passed, I got better and better, and started doing more of the distance events — all of them actually — and by the end of the season, the 5000-meter was “my” event and I was finishing first with consistency and qualified for the State Open.

Somehow, a couple of freshman, Jeff and I, had managed to reel in and surpass every other distance runner on the team. It was really neat to have guys who, weeks prior, wouldn’t even so much as look at me in the hallway at school, darting back and fourth across the football field cheering me on by name for both straightaways.

While I was pretty much a non-factor at States… as a team, we won the State Title in 1991. What an awesome bus right home that was from East Hartford…

Now, still not really feeling comfortable with my place on the team, I skipped the team banquet that year.

Man, you got in my face about that at my next gym class, called me into your office down in the locker room, gave me my JV letter, shook my hand, smiled, and told me not to skip another one in an almost silent tone that only an intimidating football coach could.

The following fall, instead of hanging out at home, I joined the cross country team.

And then I did track again. And then cross country. And then track again and so on wracking up six varsity letters and adding another State Championship in 1994 — when I was a factor.

Not to bad for the seemingly unathletic kid that played tuba in the band and rode the “loser cruiser” to school each and every day.

Oh, and for the record, I never skipped another team banquet.

Now, my parents were never really athletic. I’m not sure there’s an athletic bone in my Mom’s body. My dad was more of a musician who ending up working for one of the insurance companies. But what man doesn’t want to be good at sports?

My dad died back in 2010 but my fondest memories of him are how he’d show up at every single track meet — you know where we had crowds that could be counted on a single hand — to watch his son outrun everybody.

He was beaming with pride sitting on those bleachers next to the tower hearing all of the guys cheer me on as I boringly ran in a big circle twelve and a half times, then four times, and then, later, another eight times.

I can still picture the look on his face saying, “Yep, that’s my kid.”

I went two seasons without losing a single race at home. I think the only time I wasn’t the first across the line was at one of the invitationals we went to. Talk about a personal confidence booster.

And that’s 100% on you, Coach.

I sometimes wonder if teachers even know when they’re “making” one of those moments for their students.

Sure, I may have drawn attention to myself on my own that day in gym but you took it upon yourself to make it more — and gave me the confident backing to really apply myself.

Further, after you’d passed the coaching reins on to Kurt — he pushed the same type of confidence on entering me in invitational meets with times well beyond what I’d ever done.

4:18 mile? Me? I can’t do that.

I did it.

Confidence is a crazy thing.

My life would have been *so* much different had I not gotten involved with that track team. Err, had you not forced me to get involved with that track team.

No way would I have been “rounded” enough to somehow find myself in the National Honor Society. No way would I have ever considered myself athletic scholarship material. No way would I have even had a girlfriend in high school.

It’s amazing, just a few months ago the Class of ’94 had our 20th reunion.

At heart, I still kinda of define my high school self as the dorky tuba player in the band that didn’t talk much… But the reality is that most people remembered me as a really fast runner. That’s a pretty cool high school legacy for someone like me. Something I’m really proud of even if I still find it difficult to believe.

Thank you for noticing and forcing me to pursue something that I was naturally good at. Something that I didn’t even know I could do and something that, had you not “put” me on the track team that day, something that I never in a million years would have pursued on my own.

You gave me my first opportunity — my first big break — and I certainly rode it as far as I could. And I’ll tell you, I’ve taken advantage of every other opportunity that first once opened me up to.

Thanks so much Coach!

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MolassesThroughout my years in high school running cross country and long distance on the track, the coaches would often say things like “finish strong”.

Not such an easy task when you’ve already gone around the track a dozen times as fast as you could and are on your last legs.

My finishing “kick” could only be described as “slow as molasses in February”.

No joke, my track coach called me that.

Frequently.

ALL FOUR YEARS.

Thankfully my pace for the previous dozen or so laps greatly exceeded nearly all of my competitors so it was pretty rare event that I’d actually “need” to finish strong.

In fact, I can only remember having to actually sprint down the final straightaway once… ever.

I lost, obviously, you know, being slow as molasses in February…

So here I am, fourteen weeks into my aggressive auto loan payment plan and the finishline is in sight.

I’m excited to rid myself of this monthly, err, weekly bill.

But like on the track 20+ years ago, even though I’m nearly done, I’m worn out.

My checking balance has fallen to the point that, well, I probably should be “re-arranging” some payment dates or dipping into my savings so as to not only avoid fees but also maintain my own personal finance standards of pretty much always being a month ahead of myself.

Basically, the extra payments I’ve been making, while painful from day one, are really getting to the point that they’re crippling.

Okay, crippling is too strong of a word.

They’re restrictive, I guess. I treading water, yes, but slowly sinking. Not sure how much longer I’ll last…

But I’m not suspending the payments.

I’m too close.

And based on my past experiences, the moment you start to veer of course and start making excuses, well, you lose.

I might not have the kick I thought I’d have for these last few weeks of payments (in fact, I thought I’d pay it off by August at one point), my fast pace will get me there soon enough.

Just over $3000 to go…

– – – – – – – – –

PIAC Tangent
Usain BoltIt’s funny, the first time a coach yelled that on my final lap, I was thinking, “Huh? Does he want me to flex on the straightaway?”

Seemed like a goofy request considering I’d already lapped the competition…

Finish strong?

Dude, I’m so far ahead, I could start walking and still finish first.

But here’s the thing if you’ve never really watched distance running… The further you go, the more your “form” breaks down. Your shoulders start to rise, you bend your elbows more, your head flops around, and you start taking smaller and shorter steps.

Even marathon runners run like Usain Bolt at the start. Twenty six miles later, only the really elite ones still have that form.

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FitBit HR ChargeMy wife received a FitBit HR for her birthday this past weekend and I put it on for around 25 seconds. This is my review.

Pretty solid build — a little like the rubbery material Swatch watches were made of in the 1980’s.

At the same time, while solid, it also kinda looks a bit like a Happy Meal toy giveaway — cheap really.

No one really remembers those days when McDonald’s handed out “tech” things so, apparently, it’s okay to charge $150 for something visually very similar.

On the plus side, while the material feels like a Swatch, they’ve pressed a pattern into it so it’s not arm-hair pulling — think of a really wide and tight elastic on your arm.

Yeah, it’s nothing like that.

It has a couple of flashing lights on the bottom side that touch your wrist that I’m guessing are checking out your blood flow to calculate your pulse — kinda like those one finger clothes-pin style pulse meters.

It also has a real watchband clasp unlike the friction clasp that the regular Charge model has. That alone made it worth $25 more in my book as it can’t just “fall” off.

My wife, though, disagreed and thought the less expensive model would be more comfortable.

The small display bar only lights up with the time when you tap it or press the one button on the side.

I realize that this is a battery saving measure and can totally respect that. However, the trend with most modern devices to have so few buttons is highly annoying.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been frustrated trying to turn a tablet on or off. There’s only one button — do you hold it down? Do you not hold it down? Is there some sort of magic pressing pattern required to make it do something?

With a singe button, this “new” wearable technology is akin to the on-board “computer” on my nearly 20-year old car.

You know, where you set the clock using a single button and endlessly frustrating patterns to jump from hour to minute.

Even my current Blu-Ray player only has a couple of buttons. One to turn it on and one to eject the disc. Should I lose or break the remote, well, the whole device becomes a paperweight.

I hate that.

The FitBit HR Charge is also not waterproof. I dunno, if a wearable device is suppose to “track” your daily activities, you’d think they’d ensure that it can be worn in the shower.

I know why it’s not waterproof but whichever company figures out a way to make it that way, well, that’ll be a game changer. Hey, watches are waterproof…and have been for like 30 years, right?

Anyway, in the short time that I wore it (no, I didn’t get a rash), it told me that it was 7:31PM and that my heart was beating 85 beats per minute.

Pretty uninteresting stuff, right there.

It also told me, since my wife had been wearing it pretty much all day, how many steps had been taken (with a little progress bar pushing her towards 10k, I’d assume), how far she’d traveled, and how many calories had been burned.

Now, as a geek, I could tear down the accuracy of all of these number with ease.

I mean, only a moron would think a device like this, straight out of the box, could be accurate with so little to go on and so many variables a strap of rubber with a blinking few lights could never know.

(Yes, I know you can “customize” it to your regular stride length and that sort of thing to make it slightly more accurate but I’m certain that 90% of their owners never even bother.)

That said — I don’t think precise accuracy is the point or purpose of the device.

With the Fibit displaying that she only had about 1200 steps to go until she hit the 10k mark, guess what?

We went on a late evening walk.

At a time when, usually, we’d just be lounging on the couch waiting for the kids to fall asleep.

And, while the numbers are just that, numbers, and essentially meaningless…those tiny numbers got her (and me…and three kids) up and moving at a time when, well, frankly, it was couch potato time.

That’s where the FitBit excels.

And until the current fad of wearable technology wears off, that’s probably a good thing for our society.

Get up, and get moving.


– – – – – – – – –

PIAC Tangent
Hilariously, my kids refer to it as a “Fibbit”.

Somehow I’m pretty sure that their marketing department failed to test the final product name in a focus group of young children.

(Makes you wonder how/why the drug companies approved names like Latuda and Farxiga, doesn’t it? I find both names (and their commercials) hilarious.)

Sure, the FitBit isn’t geared towards that ageset anyway (though the wrist band does get small enough to fit my 6-year old) but I can just imagine people saying to their friends, “Oh, I walked over 14 miles yesterday…” with the group croaking “Fibbit! Fibbit!” in the background.

In Fitbit’s defense, they can always claim that the accuracy is just a “reasonable” guess…so, yeah, feel free to fib a little bit.

For real, though, like with solving money issues, the key is motivation and momentum.

The FitBit Charge HR delivers on both fronts…if you keep wearing it.

But NEVER in the shower.

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MMA for ChildrenMy middle son, Henrik, has somehow developed a knack for, well, full contact fighting.

I mean, it’s uncanny how, with ZERO training, he can pretty much take anyone to the ground with ease.

He also appears to take punches and elbows to the face with, well, indifference. It’s crazy.

I mean, you should see what his knees look like!?

I know all little kids have banged up knees but, for real, this kid’s shins look like he’s just come home from some sort of archaic barbed wire factory’s quality control department.

Sure, he still requests the token band-aid on a near daily basis but it’s clear that what most kids would consider a mortal injury are simply signs of toughness for him.

Makes me wonder if, perhaps, we should encourage these talents (within reason) that he apparently has a natural instinct for at just four years of age.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want cauliflower ears in his future and I’d be horrified to ever learn that he’s a bully to anyone but his older brother.

In fact, I’m kind of turned off by UFC and MMA events.

I mean, I’ll watch them when they’re on free television every three months, you know, if there’s nothing else on.

And we never watch boxing or, ugh, professional wrestling either.

I can honestly say that we’ve never inundated him or imprinted that kind of “culture” on him.

Sure, the first rule of fight club is that not to talk about fight club but, for real, no one in this family is in a fight club.

I’m starting to think one of us should be…

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Baseball GameSo tonight I brought my two oldest sons to the inaugural game for a new “futures league” baseball team.

Yeah, I’m not sure what that means either…

I guess it’s like summer camp for college baseball players or something.

Babe Ruth’s grand daughter threw the first pitch which was pretty neat and, for real, she actually looks a lot like Babe Ruth.

Whatever, we only lasted a couple of innings before, well, boredom sunk in… and then we left.

(We took the picture after we’d left the stadium…which is why they’re smiling!)

My feeling for a long time has been that it’s already apparent that baseball is dying. It’s something you go to see with your grandfather — an old man’s game of sorts.

There certainly was a lot of blue hair in the bleachers… I’d bet there’ll be a lot of aching backs in the morning too…

My grandfather died in the 1980’s so, thankfully, I was spared the agony of sitting on some uncomfortable bleachers in the hot sun when short shorts were still in style.

Pretty sure he wasn’t a baseball fan anyway. I’m also pretty sure he hated kids. Or maybe it just seemed that way.

Anyway, I grew up playing soccer as a kid — see the picture — as I’m pretty certain that a majority of those Generation X’ers still under 40, like me, did too.

ayso

The Generation Y kids? Same deal — it’s really no wonder that US Soccer has gotten exponentially better in the past 30 years. It’s why the US women nearly dominate.

Soccer is here. Soccer is big. And soccer is going to get even bigger…

Bigger than hockey (insert unhappy face here), bigger than baseball, bigger than basketball, and likely, in another decade and after a few more scandals, even football.

The under-40 crowd gets it.

We like games that are over in under 2 hours.
We like games that don’t have a commercial break every other minute.
We totally dig announcers with European accents even though we can barely comprehend the Irish and Welsh guys.
We like games where talent is drawn from every inch of the planet.

And speaking of worldwide competitions, young Americans have grown to enjoy cheering on the underdog — like they did last year for the men’s National Team in Brazil — something they’ve rarely had to do since, for the most part, American athletes have historically excelled at games very few other countries even participate in.

usa_duncanIt’s pretty cool to “beat” a team you shouldn’t be able to. Way more fun than leading the medal count at the Olympics…again.

And just observing my own kids and, granted, they’re my kids and share most of my interests, but still… during last year’s World Cup in Brazil, my then 3 and 5-year old sons sat still and quietly (a very, very uncommon occurrence), transfixed to the television watching Germany wipe the floor with Brazil in the semi-finals (on the Spanish channel) and then again when they disposed of Lionel Messi and Argentina to win the World Cup.

All of this before either of them had played a single game of organized soccer themselves.

Clearly, there’s something about soccer that Americans have been blind to for too long. It IS the world’s game.

Now, if only there were some way to financially “invest” in soccer. Sadly, the MLS is a private company.

Among sports, while it’s already grown immensely, it’s going to get a lot BIGGER in the next 20 years.

 

PIAC Addendum:

Yes, there’s more to this post.

For reference, here are photos of my oldest at a baseball game and a basketball game.

Not a fan...

Yep, clearly miserable experiences for him.

We’ll hit a pro soccer “friendly” this summer and see how that goes…

And you know what else is great about soccer? Anyone can play it.

I know I said earlier that one of the great things about the game is that talent can be drawn from the entire planet but soccer takes it to a higher level than any other sport (and most industries too).

It’s not like basketball or football where it’s essential that you’re blessed with having a certain body type.

Really, you can top out at 5-foot-7 and weigh a paltry 130 pounds and earn in excess of $15 million dollars per year playing this game.

And if you’re 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, that isn’t really disadvantageous either.

I mean, you think pro baseball players make a ton of money? Sydney Crosby, Aaron Rogers, or LeBron James, even?

Nope, when it comes to team sports, year-to-year, it’s a bunch of soccer players you’ve likely never even heard of that are making the most.

Cristiano Ronaldo pulls in over $52 million just to play.

Lionel Messi has a $48 million dollar contract…for this year alone. One season. The dude makes over $1.50 every single second. That’s over $130k per day… every day of the year.

That doesn’t include their lucrative shoe deals and all of the other stuff they endorse…world wide.

Income like that makes Lebron look like a hobo from the streets of Akron.

Now, you may have heard of those two (Messi and Ronaldo) but guys named Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Gareth Bale, Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez, Sergio Aguero, and Luis Suarez all make more than anybody on the New York Yankees.

Just something to think about for those that think soccer isn’t worth a second glance

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Canada 2015 Soccer BallWith the Women’s World Cup soon approaching, I found myself talking to a co-worker about soccer.

Naturally, since I’m from Canada, I’m hoping that Canada (the host nation) wins it all (unlikely) but my co-worker, well, let’s just say he doesn’t give a crap since it’s soccer… and women’s soccer, at that.

Sometimes I wonder why I even bother talking to this guy…

Anyway, he claims that soccer isn’t popular in the United States because it’s not only boring but you can’t bet on it either — as if the gambling industry was what kept American sports leagues afloat.

Without even bringing up golf, I countered that baseball is, indeed, far more boring and that I find it very sad that he thinks gambling is of that much importance.

He then brought up the popularity of fantasy leagues — which are essentially a form of gambling — for the big sports in the US and how soccer just couldn’t do that.

Offering my own opinion, I said that, clearly, baseball and football are soooooo dull that “fans” these days have to make up pretend teams and scoring systems to hold their interest.

Societally, that’s even sadder than the gambling aspect, really.

The lack of scoring was also brought up — amid another gambling reference, “How can you bet the spread when the games are always zero to zero?”

I pointed out that in any given basketball game, the teams score over 100 times total?! ONE HUNDRED?!

I’m sorry, while I love to point out to people that the game of basketball was invented by a Canadian and that the first NBA game was even played in Toronto (seriously), seeing the same thing happen over 100 times in the span of a 48 minute game gets a little, well, boring.

And, proving that I’m right and he’s a knuckle dragger with a bit of a gambling problem, nearly the entire world plays soccer.

Sure, they might want to put an NFL team in London but, c’mon, it’ll never fly.

It’s a slow and boring game.

Soccer is neither.

0 1017

Youth SoccerLast weekend my oldest son Duncan’s soccer team suffered yet another defeat losing by a score of 16-2.

While soccer for 5-year olds is supposed to be more about having fun than winning, kids aren’t stupid. They know they’re getting killed out there.

They haven’t won a game yet this season and, not to toot my own horn, but Duncan has scored every single goal his team has gotten credit for this season.

Well, except one where the other team scored on themselves. These are 5-year olds we’re talking about here…

So, down by double digits already before halftime, after a player on the opposing team had just scored yet another goal, there was a little showboating going on.

You know, an in-your-face excessive celebration, the kind that would totally result in a flag being thrown in American football.

So, from the sidelines, I saw my frustrated son say something to the player.

The player responded.

My son responded back.

The kids’ parents joked, “Look at the trash talkin’…”

Then they saw their kid’s red face and the dad proudly proclaimed, “Oh, he’s pissed… Look at ’em!”, you know, excited that his son cared so much.

Not far away, I was trying not to smile, also proud that my son stood up for himself and his team — and thrilled that whatever it was that he’d said had clearly infuriated the opposition.

(For the record, the two were on the same team last season — no “real” strife here. Just a couple of ahead-of-the-curve kindergartners who already have the competitive flame going…)

Now, Duncan can’t hide his emotions very well. He was *very* upset both by the score and the subsequent teasing.

As they lined up to restart the game, I saw his coach lean in and say something, Duncan responded, and then, even from 30 meters away, I could read the coach’s lips as he leaned in even closer to say, confusedly, “What?” before trying to get Duncan’s emotions back in check.

The attentive referee — which witnessed the post-goal celebratory events — then came over to make sure Duncan was good to go for the ensuing kickoff…and then he too leaned in with a “Huh?”

A few moments pass and the halftime whistle blows so I head over to the bench to see what the deal is…

“Hey bud, what’s going on?”

“It’s David. He’s bloviating!” he said, nearly in tears…

Like everyone else, I leaned in with a, “What?”

“David scored again and now he’s bloviating me…”

“Dunc, I’m not sure that’s the right word to use… I’m not even sure it IS a word.”

So he finished the game — scoring the only two goals his team could muster — and we talked about it some more on the bench after the game.

Like, who taught you that word? Where did you hear it? And, though I didn’t actually ask him this, I was thinking, “Why is it in your day-to-day vocabulary?”

Made for a good laugh.

And then I looked it up.

It is a word.

And he used it correctly. In the right context.

blo·vi·ate | verb
talk at length, especially in an inflated or empty way.

David was, in fact, bloviating. Trash talking, being a blowhard, full of hot air, showboating, ummm, all bloviating.

Apologies were in order.

I apologized to Duncan for telling him that I didn’t think it was a word. I also apologized to his coach at the next practice, you know, since my kid was uttering words of the SAT variety during the heat of competition.

PIAC Addendum:
The team’s woes are a shame, really.

For the first time in youth sports that I’ve encountered since becoming a parent, there isn’t a single boy or girl on this team that isn’t trying their best and there’s something to be said for that,

There isn’t that one kid who’s always going the wrong way or the kid that’s more interested in looking at the sky while the game is going on. Or, ugh, the kid that only shows up for games and insists on picking the ball up with their hands…

Really, while some players are certainly better than others — like on ANY team ever — there isn’t a single player on this team that could be considered the weak link. Not one.

For their sake, I hope things start to click for them.

I hope that for the coach’s sake too. On it’s own, it takes a special kind of person to volunteer to attempt to rangle a bunch of 5-year olds.

Now imagine how exponentially more difficult if becomes if none of them are having fun.

Can You Dig It?

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