July 19, 2004

The Making of a Sport God

Let's get this out of the way: I hate soccer. I hate it in all its incarnations: the "herd ball" practiced by the newbie set, the "empowering chick ball" practiced by the preteen girl set, and the "professional football (or futbol, if you're spanish language-snob inclined)" played worldwide. You won't convert me, so don't even try. And also, if you find that something deep within you is irrevocably offended by my hatred of soccer, might I suggest a beer and valium combination? Because I'm not interested in your defense of your favorite elegant nuanced girl-and-boy-empowering sport of choice that also affords you the opportunity to unironically sip a latte in the stands. Seriously. So just think before you hit that Submit Comment button, is all I'm saying. Well, that's not all I'm saying, but let's just move on, shall we?

Hublet shares my visceral anti-soccer reaction, and so when we play sports outside or watch sports on TV, they tend to be baseball or football (the 'Merican version, and I can't believe I'm even dignifying the S-word by clarifying that, dear God) or (college-only) basketball. Given the DNA that The Boy has been dealt, he will never play football. Baseball and basketball, yes, provided his growth spurt occurs earlier than mine did. He would also probably enjoy track and field and gymnastics, given his speed and penchant for hurling himself off of high structures and doing flips. But since Dick's Sporting Goods doesn't sell parallel bars or saddle horses, we're going with baseball right now.

Saturday was our weekly family outing/good capitalist trip to the local shoparama, and Hublet was chomping at the bit to get The Boy a "real" baseball glove. Yes, I know the child is not yet three, and yes, you probably do know where this is going, but bear with me. See, we've been spending a fair bit of time on the weekends tossing the baseball around, and The Boy, upon seeing our gloves, insists on wearing HIS "glubs," which are his blue and orange gardening gloves complete with a smiling insect face and the logo "Be Good To Bugs" emblazoned on them. Thus arrayed, The Boy can be cajoled to chase baseballs and either throw or place them into Mommy and Daddy's "big glubs." Hublet had decided that this Would Not Do, and so off to Dick's we went, where The Boy amused himself by running the "track" in the shoe section and I picked up a Pilates toning tape (early verdict - OW).

A smattering of baseball gear had been selected and we were on our way to the check-out when the trouble began. There, attractively arrayed at toddler eye-level, was a display of colorful "mini soccer balls." The Boy was drawn to them as Odysseus to the Sirens, for they were small, and round, and easily handled by an almost three-year-old who already possesses the only skills necessary to soccer: running and kicking. The horror! I managed to distract him with a hula hooping demo, and home we went.

Only to discover, to Hublet's dismay, that the "big glub" was too heavy. And that The Boy really likes to kick wiffle balls instead of hitting them. I reassured Hublet that as The Boy's motor skills progress he will come to enjoy wielding the glove and bat, and that since he isn't quite three his interest level in any sport that isn't "fling self wildly around the outdoors and fall down" is limited, but secretly I feared that the insidious "gateway" evil that is toddler soccer might be establishing a foothold in my darling boy. You shall not lure my son to the dark side, evil soccer! Constant vigilance is my only recourse! Well, that and another 700 games of "airplane."

Posted by Big Arm Woman at July 19, 2004 10:10 AM

It is not my favorite either. And, my loathing will only grow after July 27th when I apparently have to stand in line at 6 a.m. to get my daughter registered for a local league that seems to be all white & all wealthy. At least the season for this league is minute and the games are not on Saturday mornings!

Posted by: Belle at July 19, 2004 12:06 PM

Conversation at my house several years ago:

Mom: "You don't want to play soccer, do you?"
Kid: "No."
Mom: "Good."

Posted by: Laura at July 19, 2004 01:10 PM

Let's set the factual record straight. It was BA Wife that first got the jones to buy the boy a baseball glove, Wednesday evening around 7:15 if memory serves well (which, of course, it does). And, we had basically given up the idea for buying a glove on Saturday until I accidentally happened upon the small $10.00 one that we eventually bought. So this was hardly a crusade - though it will be by next year at this time.

Regarding soccer, remember the immortal disclosure Hank Hill had to give Bobby (slightly paraphrasing): "Bobby, I hate to have to tell you this, but it is important that you know the truth. Soccer is a game invented by European ladies who needed something to do while their husbands cooked dinner."

Posted by: Husband of BAW at July 19, 2004 03:00 PM

'Kay, I'll bite...

What's the game "airplane?"

Posted by: di at July 19, 2004 03:18 PM

"Airplane" is played when I grab two of The Boy's appendages (arms, legs, or one of each) and we spin around until we're dizzy, then we try to walk.

Hours of entertainment.

And as usual, the hublet doth protest too much--it was merely a suggestion on my part which he quite eagerly adopted.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Posted by: BAW at July 19, 2004 04:09 PM

Ah, gotcha.

And if y'all really want to start The Boy on baseball, get the circle pads that are Velcro and a tennis ball.

My boys love the sound that it makes when you rip the ball off the Velcro pad. And as you know, any game that involves a funky noise is only that much cooler.

And it's easy for the boys to catch when they're young (read: if you hit the pad that they're holding with the ball). Great sense of accomplishment for all.

And it does work. My oldest LOVES baseball. Loves to play catch, loves to hit, loves to pitch, etc. Loves ARod of the Yankees -- we're from NY, whatcha expect?!

Now if I could get the youngest into watching football with me I'd be a happy mom...

Posted by: di at July 19, 2004 10:53 PM

Back in college I lived on a floor that was half populated by members of the soccer team (National Champions, yet). They proved at least one part of a quote someone once gave me:

"Soccer is a gentlemenly game played by beasts, Rugby is a beastly game played by gentlemen, and football is a beastly game played by beasts. "

I'm hoping for baseball, but it looks like the the Elder Yard Ape isn't interested (at 5 he's a total nerd). However, the three-year-old GAP (Gentile American Princess) has the package - great arm, an amazing set of wheels, and a love for all things physical. She can throw a small ball the length of several rooms (right to, and hopefully not through) a window.

If only there was big money in softball...

Posted by: Pete at July 20, 2004 09:48 AM

You could learn Cricket, and teach him to play it!

Think of the pure confusion factor at the park.

Posted by: Sigivald at July 20, 2004 12:39 PM

Ditto on the Velcro catching pads.

And being the Queen of Unsolicited Advice that I am:

During my child's struggle with vision problems, we learned that playing catch is a great way for a small child to develop stereoscopic vision. So now you can feel virtuous about that $10 glove purchase.

Posted by: Laura at July 20, 2004 01:31 PM

Re Pete's comment:

I believe the quote is, "Football is a hooligan's game played by gentlemen; Rugby Union is a gentleman's game played by hooligans, and; Rugby League is a hooligan's game played by hooligans."

Real, true, FIFA football is the best sport. Ever. It is truly the beautiful game. Cricket's not bad, either, and a heck of a lot ballsier than baseball. After all, you have to catch something pretty much the size and hardness of a baseball barehanded.

Posted by: Another Damned Medievalist at July 20, 2004 06:59 PM