The World Cup Has Turned Me Into a Soccer Dad

I’ve never cared about the World Cup.

Professional soccer just wasn’t important to me. Soccer was a sport to be played when we were kids, forgotten about as adults, and those men who wore football club jerseys were to be goofed on, including yours truly. Yes, I bought an AC Milan Jersey–that I still wear–when I traveled to Europe for the first time in college.My trip predated the jerky Eruo, and the jersey cost something like four billion Lira or $1.50 American. It’s also served as the worst conversation starter possible:

Stranger: You play soccer?

Me: Oh uh, no. I just got this jersey when I was in Milan. It was pretty cheap. It was my first trip to Europe, and I’d never been to Italy…

Stranger: Okay, thanks.

Soccer Dad

For me, the biggest problem with soccer has always been the size of the field. 120 yards long by 80 yards wide is Goddamn huge. It’s like one of those humungous rectangles of land you fly over when you wish the view was better.

The expanse of field slows down the game, and the game needs some coinciding excitement other than the factions of white supremacist fans harassing black players that countries like Spain inexplicably allow.

I propose a field of play half the size with cockfighting in one corner and meerkat sodomy in opposite one.

Cockfighting + meerkat sodomy = America’s new favorite pastime. Think of the possibilities.

Team USA women’s soccer is more exciting to me than men’s, and it has everything to do with the fact that they are champions and hot. I mean Alex Morgan and Hope Solo? To quote the great Howard Stern, who quotes the great Hank Kingsley played by the great Jefferey Tambor: “Hey now!”

alex-morgan

Hey now, Alex!

Hope Solo

Hey now, Hope!

Hope Solo is even hotter for beating her sister and nephew while drunk and getting arrested for it. I’d like to think they asked for one too many handouts, and she delivered them, just not how they imagined.

So why am I suddenly a World Cup convert? A changed man?

It’s simple. My 6-year-old son is into it. Unlike listening to One Republic, I don’t need to pretend to like the World Cup. I’m digging it big time.

My transformation started in the spring when my son played soccer in the park district league. Once I got past the early Saturday morning game times and the unjust, frigid April and May temperatures, I focused on his engagement in the sport.

My boy is impulsive and hyper, behavioral characteristics that don’t mix well with the indoors. The games provided a wonderful outlet.

I’m not type A, and I’m not an athlete, so I never feared becoming a fakakta soccer dad who curses the refs and yells at the other team’s players. That was until a kid played quite physically against my son.

It was a girl–if you looked hard enough–and she was easily the best athlete on the field. Every time my son had a fast break and threatened to score, she chased him down, hip checked him to the grass, and stole the ball.

Of course my son  wasn’t bothered by it, but I sure was. After the fourth time she knocked him on his ass, I decided to hold a quick private coaching session with him.

“Next time she catches up with you, swing your elbows,” I ordered, my version of Sweep the Leg.

Naturally he didn’t listen, and she sent him flying again.

I threw my hands in the air and turned to a parent next to me.

“Is anyone gonna stop Boys Don’t Don’t Cry over there? Jesus Christ.”

My transformation continued on Father’s Day when my son got me a Lionel Messi jersey (See, I’m still that guy!) and provided a complete player profile on an athlete I’d never heard of.

“Lionel Messi plays for Argentina and FC Barcelona, Dad. And he plays forward.”

“Is he good?”

“Oh, he’s so good,” He said, waving his hand. “He’s literally one of the best soccer players. He’s handsome, too.”

My transformation completed with the USA victory over Ghana (rrhea). The game was exciting, and I yelped whenever there was a play on goal. Seeing the large game-watch parties around the country, including here in Chicago revved me up even more. Much like sober living, I didn’t need to rely on meerkat sodomy to have a fulfilling experience.

My son and I watch the games together, and when we’re not watching, we play soccer in the basement and outside. We pick  a national team. He’s always Croatia, and I’m Iran (Don’t ask. It’s just how we do it.) He instructs me to “High it” when I attempt to score. I oblige and kick the ball so fucking high over his head, it leaves our backyard and lands in a neighbor’s driveway across the street. He laughs or scolds me. Either way, I retrieve the ball and we keep playing.

Inside he asks me if we could go to a World Cup game. Maybe in four years, I tell him, and he senses that I want to go as badly as he does.

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    Chocolate Diapers

    I am a vitamin D-deficient former Floridian--who, despite the spring...er...extended winter--loves Chicago. I contradicted convention (and common sense) by moving FROM the beach to the Midwest, but Lou Malnati's and any Italian beef sandwich reinforce that I made the right decision. I also got a wife and two sons out of it, and I would do anything for my family, except miss a Miami Hurricanes football game. This is my take on fatherhood. You can contact me at david.telisman@gmail.com. Thank you for reading!

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