Thursday, June 19, 2014


We call it that here, and it's fine.

When explaining to a 10 year old, which I do often, the difference between passing the ball to the lead outside foot, as opposed to both of his feet head on, they immediately understand the difference. For if I pass the ball to a teammate's lead foot, going forward, I am instructing him to do something: GO FORWARD. My pass has told him that, but you can't hear it.

If I pass it straight to my teammate's feet, not in front, or behind, I'm telling him something completely different: Scan the field...maybe pass it back to me.

But lets say my teammate is making a run from the outside into the middle of the field, and I pass a ball to him that is right at his two feet, while he's on the move. Is that good, or bad? What if he has to pause for half of a second to gather it, push it forward, and find an open man? Is that different from me passing him the ball slightly in front of his run? I mean, he can't use his hands to catch it, and then run, right? He has to gather it with his feet, while running, keeping his head down to gather ball, but also looking up to see what's happening at the same time, right? Because if another teammate is making a run from the opposite side of the field, slashing inside, behind a defender, it matters if my initial pass is slightly in front of my teammate, right at his feet, or slightly behind.


It usually isn't.

But I'll wait for it. I'll watch for hours until it happens.


Everything I do is a conversation with another player, at all times. And the conversation is changing every second.

Mistakes are magnified in ways you'll never see. You see a guy passing the ball slightly behind a guy. Me? I see a guy who if he had played the ball in front of the guy he would have seen his teammate streaking in for the next pass; maybe a shot on goal. I see a guy whose head I want to tear off for being lazy with his pass, and not precise. You see nothing. You see "it's boring." I see? Opportunity missed. Opportunity lost. And the field will NEVER look the same again.

And when I explain to a 10 year old, for the first time, the importance of making the right pass at the right time, they get it. In that moment, they start to recognize that it's not just sport, but it's chess on the run. It's strategy. It's precision. It's patience. It's beautiful. It's teamwork. It's hours of training. It's impossible. But when it is possible?

It's heaven. It's beauty. It's life. It's everything.

For those of you who don't get it? Truth is, I'm sorry for you. It's truly your loss. Go throw a ball into a hoop, and like a simpleton, enjoy that. Sometimes I do. In fact, I'm damn good at it. When I play like Pete Carill would have wanted I think about soccer.

If you think it's impressive that a Quarterback can throw a ball to a player whose feet get to do one thing, hands another, with the QB knowing exactly where he'll be, then you have no idea about the essence of this game we call soccer. That amazing play? It's easy.

If that's what's "heaven" for you, again, I'm sorry for you.

For those of you who think shooting a basketball 24 feet into a hoop, or dunking it, is awesome? Great. At times it is.

Soccer it is not.

The guy to my left has no idea what soccer is, but he loves it, watches it, and roots for his team. Hopefully he's learning. Maybe I'm willing to explain.

I love it because I understand it to an entirely different level from this guy on my left, and like him, it moves me. It's joy, it's pain, with every pass. Every play.

The guy on my right? He can't even stand to watch because he knows more than I'll ever know. He's levels above my understanding. It's his joy. And his pain. Both those things are magnified compared to mine. The more you know, the more you feel it.

When all is said and done, it's a sport like no other. As unpredictable as the weather. And as beautiful as well.

For those of you that don't understand what a 10 year old gets to learn, I'm sorry your dad gave you a bat and a glove. he deprived you. He should have made you play.

And for those of you who can't understand how something so "boring" can illicit so much joy in others, pause for a moment. Who is right here: the faithful with experience, or the unknowing without it?

For those of us who know about the intricacies of every single moment, consider yourself lucky. We have run, dribbled, passed, shot, settled, trapped, and volleyed. We get it. We're lucky to have done so. Especially as Americans.

Everyone else in the world knows other sports exist. They're allowed to play them. But they don't. It's not because they're bad sports, or that they can't do it. No. It's because they've played the most rewarding sport, and know it's the only one that truly matters.

In fact, there are days when I think it's the only thing that matters at all. And that's what draws us.

Again, I'm sorry for you if you don't get it. Try to learn to, but if not?

Shut the fuck up.

1 comment:

  1. Great line: "When all is said and done, it's a sport like no other. As unpredictable as the weather. And as beautiful as well."