At what point does one officially become a soccer dad? Does soccer dad have to be the person's primary identity? Spending Friday nights at soccer parks watching my 9-year-old's team compete seems like a pretty good indication that I am, in fact, a soccer dad. And the only thing more exciting than watching a close contest is knowing you'll surprise him with a trip to Dairy Queen afterward. Whatever unhealthy stew is responsible for the cherry dip they put on their cones, I don't care. It's the only artificial flavor that makes me swoon.
So last night, it was raining fairly hard and the mid-50s temperature helped produce a rain-fog combination that made it hard for me to see through my glasses. My 9-year-old has inherited my nearsightedness and poor little fella had a hard time seeing during the game. I almost sat in my car to watch the game but I figured if 9-year-olds can deal with shitty weather then so can I.
The other team banged in three quick goals and it looked like a blowout was in store. It was 4-0 at the end of the first half. Our team played well but couldn't manage much offense. Much to their credit, they weren't discouraged, and came out kicking in the second half. A talented kid on my son's team scored two goals quickly, and suddenly it was 4-3 after a player on the other team kicked the ball in his own net by mistake. I think the term for this is "own goal," but I'm not sure. I grew up playing baseball and street hockey and football. Soccer wasn't on my radar and I'm just learning about what constitutes offsides.
Anyway, the talented kid on my son's team was feeling it and scored another goal to tie it 4-4. The last few minutes of the game were high anxiety. You see your kid out there in a close game and of course you hope he makes a good play but more than that you hope he doesn't get worked. I am not some Malcolm Gladwell follower who thinks with 10,000 hours my kid will be on the Olympic team. I just want my kid to have fun, make friends, develop skill and confidence. True, as I like to say, that winning feels better than losing but it's not all about the W. Time expired, the game ended in a 4-4 tie, and I hollered "A tie, we'll take it!" but not having much charisma I don't think anyone heard or cared, and that's fine.
I congratulated my kid on a good game, and off to Dairy Queen we went. Those cones tasted damn delicious.
This morning, like a true soccer dad, I treated his filthy soccer jersey with the best detergent products made available by runaway capitalism, and I'm pleased to report it's 98% free of stains and dirt.
A tie never felt so good, a clean enough jersey looks good to me, and this soccer dad is already looking forward to next Friday night.