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Home » Sports

Battling it out but keeping it clean

Submitted by on Sunday, 28 September 2008 No Comment

There are two kinds of aggressive in life.

There's the kind that's hard-charging and relentless, but fair.

Then there's the kind that plays dirty if someone gets in the way.

Big Guy and his teammates ran into the second kind today but responded with the first, in an amazing display of maturity that met my monthly quota of "the kid's gonna be all right" moments.

You never know which way it's going to go with 5-year-olds -- or, at least, I never know which way it's going to go with mine.

Big Guy's a little intense on the soccer field, not to mention prone to angry outbursts when he's frustrated. And he's not opposed at all to roughing up his brother, particularly if Little Guy makes the egregious error of claiming a toy or occupying a space Big Guy wants.

Big Guy's a little intense on the soccer field, not to mention prone to angry outbursts when he's frustrated. And he's not opposed at all to roughing up his brother, particularly if Little Guy makes the egregious error of claiming a toy or occupying a space Big Guy wants.

Today, though, Big Guy was on the receiving end of a roughing up, by a player on the other team who also looked to be 5.

In Other Kid's defense, it was a tough, tough game. The teams were pretty evenly matched -- much to the surprise of some fathers on our team side who had chuckled at first because the other team was 80 percent girls. It almost made me want to root for them.

The first three quarters were defensive struggles -- yes, they actually played defense! Passed the ball, too. Other Kid scored the game's first goal in the fourth quarter, and it was downhill from there.

Shortly after he scored, he crossed the line from aggressive to dirty. I'm assuming fatigue set in and civilized behavior flew out the window. It's not uncommon with that age group -- for that matter, it's not uncommon with some adults I know.

Other Kid started sliding baseball-style into our players. Then he began thumping backs, grabbing shirts and clawing at arms and the ball. Not one or two times, not accidentally, but repeatedly. The coaches also referees at our level of play, so there was no official unoccupied with keeping his own team in order to call him on it.

So "WWF meets soccer" continued for the final five minutes of the game, with Big Guy taking his share of the punishment. I held my breath, not because he was on the receiving end, but because I feared he'd respond in kind.

Instead, he kept playing the same way he always does, waging an all-out attack on the ball but not on the other players.

He collapsed on the ground when the final whistle blew. "I'm dead!" he proclaimed. "Mommy, they were like the white team last year."

Ah, the white team. That was when Big Guy and his teammates learned about dirty play, though compared to today's set the white team was merely a little dusty. Those players drew the line at minor shirt-grabbing.

Which, of course, led our team to do the same. It was one of those classic "teachable moments."

I was surprised he remembered a game from a year ago. Maybe it stuck in his head because Coach Joey stressed fair play at the next week's practice. I might have mentioned it a few million times as well.

"Yes, they were a little like the white team, but I'm proud of the way you played," I told him. "You didn't push back -- you just kept trying as hard as you could."

He gave me a face-breaking grin. Five minutes later he gave his brother a back-breaking shove, so I suppose there's still some work to do.

But for now, I'll take it.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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