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No hablo futbol

Submitted by on Monday, 14 June 2010 One Comment

Baseball is my native language, but I’m fluent in basketball, football and figure skating.

I can hold a conversation in NASCAR fake my way through several other sports, including hockey and golf. It’s the equivalent of being able to order a beer and then ask where the bathroom is – and if you can do the first, you better master the second.

When it comes to soccer, though, I need a tourist’s dictionary or quick access to Babel Fish to survive. That’s a problem these days, with World Cup fever whipping through the house and our resident sports translator not in residence.

I can keep my part of the prenuptial bargain and teach Big Guy to be a Lakers fan, but soccer is supposed to be Dad’s job. It was a sport he excelled at growing up, and one about which I knew nothing until I met him. I tried to learn when his yelling kept waking me up at all hours during the 2002 World Cup, but my mental hard drive had melted down by the time he’d tried to explain “offsides” for the millionth time. What line? There is no line. Give me a gridiron, white paint and someone in a striped shirt with a whistle. That’s offsides.

And the positions – why can’t I just call them all “soccer players”? I couldn’t even explain to Big Guy what it was he was objecting to playing this winter. Stryker is a military vehicle, and I equate fullback with the other football. RF? Doesn’t that stand for right fielder?

Then Dad has to further muddy the waters by telling Big Guy that soccer’s really “football.”

“No, it’s not,” Big Guy insisted. “Soccer’s soccer, and football’s football.”

“Ask your coaches,” Dad challenged, knowing that Big Guy was going to a British soccer camp at the time. His coaches must have immigrated from Switzerland. “It’s football in Europe, but soccer in the U.S.,” they told him. I’m happy that they also introduced him to concepts such as “pitch,” which would have made my head explode because I would have been looking for the person with the ball and a glove. Even I know you don’t use your hands in soccer.

As far as the U.S. team, I know that Landon Donovan’s good. Yes, I would have remembered that even if he hadn’t been on the cover of “SI for Kids” this month. Beyond that, classify me as clueless.

Big Guy didn’t have much more of a clue by the end of the U.S.-England match. Or is it a game? I’m still not sure.

Soccer simply doesn’t televise well. If the angle’s wide enough so that you can see the play develop – assuming that you’d recognize a developing play if it bit you in the butt – you can’t see the nitty gritty action. And if you’re seeing the nitty gritty, then you’re going to see it six more times from various angles as the broadcast crew tries to compensate for the fact that soccer doesn’t televise well.

“This sure is slow,” Big Guy yawned. Fifteen minutes later, he fell asleep.

I’ve failed.

Dad better not be deployed in 2014.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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One Comment »

  • Lisa said:

    I’ve played soccer and I don’t know what offsides is! :) And I don’t understand offsides in hockey too and that does involve a line. :)