ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - NOVEMBER 07: The adidas adizero F50 miCoach is displayed at the launch event in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for adidas)
Sunday morning and we've got the good stuff again...Sumatra dark roast! Perhaps my near stream-of-semi-consciousness keyboard bashing might actually produce something meaningful, artistic, even insightful this weekend -- or, maybe just something slightly less crappy than usual.
Last time I bitched about the neighbour's Torro waking me at the crack of dawn. Well, he must be reading this stuff, because he hasn't bothered to cut the hayfield next door in the past two weeks. Think I'll keep sending the dog over there to fertilize his yard in the meantime.
It's all fractured moments of clarity punctuated by the usual comings and goings of daily life -- as long as the "goings" aren't left on the kitchen floor by the dog, I figure I'm ahead of the game.
As a soccer dad, I really hate the off-season...not because there's no practices/training...I'm still driving my kid to some sort of soccer-specific stuff three times a week right now (not counting the basketball league that the soccer team's entered into as a form of
ego reduction, ahem...team building.) And no...it's not because I really miss the great outdoors here on Canada's west coast when we face those pissy, cold, fog-shrouded mid-November days, the likes of which make Deadliest Catch look like an episode of Baywatch.
It's more viceral than that. More primal. It's a combination of rage, depression, frustration, confusion...and maybe a tinge of jealousy.
Hardly do the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, and Serie A wrap up -- and, of course, the Champions League get decided, when the marketing deluge for the latest and greatest in soccer footwear begins to ramp up. And that burning feeling deep in my wallet pocket begins, and I can practically smell the crisp fresh bills inside starting to smoulder.
Enter Lionel Messi arriving in his chauffeured Euro-limo under the glare of stadium lights. He's shown busy inserting computer chips into his gleaming new F-whatevers. When I find parking a block away from the field my kid's playing at, I spend the first minute or so whisking sour cream and onion chips off the backseat -- which used to be shiny at one time. Thanks Lionel, but now I've got a kid who thinks he needs telemetry data to up his game.
Take me back to the days when cleats came in all sorts of sizes, and -- borrowing from Henry Ford -- you could have whatever model you wanted, as long as they were black. Back then, there were essentially two models to choose from: Argentinas and Copas, depending on, respectively, whether you sucked or were destined to play at Swanguard in the Sun Tournament of Soccer Champions, the precursor of today's Coastal Cup. Just to make the lesser lights feel a little better, the Argentinas did come in either white stripes or a mild bile-inspired yellowish-green tone. I think I had white, after my parents failed to find the ones whose tone matched my gameplay.
No matter which option you went with, you could be sure that game day would be followed closely by several drying days, which involved a highly secretive ritual invoving crumpled newspaper, horsehair, and the invention of something once known as the fireplace.
How things have changed! The big producers Nike, Adidas, and Umbro each produce multiple product lines for play on both grass and turf -- and if your son or daughter counts among one of the very few unlucky ones , "all-weather" surfaces, i.e. gravel. You've got SG, FG, HG, blades or multis to wade through, synthetics or leather to consider, lace systems to look at, insoles to inspect, and tongues to test -- and then there's the key differentiator in the mind of any 11-year-old: colour scheme. Purple/grey, black/orange, blue/red, magenta/cyan, chartreuse/burgundy...what the hell is chartreuse anyway? I thought it was something chilled that went down well with aged cheese.
Taking in the kaleidescopic display of spectral hues at a recent practice, coach Rick recounted "Back in the day, boys, you had to earn anything other than black." The quizical looks that he gets in return are clear confirmation that the message is lost. I had to laugh as I think the only other option in those days might have been white. Besides, Rick was a center back, more likely to pulverize your femur than to slip into an elegant slipper festooned with an interchangeable colour swoosh.
Yeah, the off season just means coughing up for cleats, at a price that makes me well....want to see red. Maybe on a good day I might admit to feeling a little green with envy about the state of youth soccer: 3rd gen turf fields, multiple qualified coaches at every session, proper goals with nets, samba music pumped out of gajillion-watt speakers at informal training sessions...and enough colour to make a podiatrist blush.
This article would have been published on time, if the author hadn't had to go cleat shopping Sunday morning.