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How not to play soccer

I was part of the soccer team in high school. You will note that I did not say I “played” soccer. I was the “manager.” The manager keeps score during the game, carries the equipment to the field, fetches the balls while the players practice shots on goal, makes sure the bandages and water are on hand and brings the coach coffee. Players wear cool shoes with cleats. Cleats are uncomfortable and clunky, so score one for the manager.

I was not particularly athletic and guidance convinced me that I needed a letter in sports in order to gain admittance to the college of my choice. The “manager,” in addition to getting to ride the bus to all the away games, also gets a letter. Nobody in college admissions asks exactly how you got your letter.

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Soccer is kind of frantic, but in slow motion. Hockey is just frantic. Both sports feature a lot of coming and going and a lot of passing of the ball/puck for no apparent reason. I was watching one of the World Cup Games the other day and it sometimes seems like the players are playing “Hot Potato.”

One guy gets the ball, has no opposing player near him, seems to have a clear field, and passes the ball to a team mate. I can’t hear him, but I am sure he is saying, “Here! You take it! I have a sore foot!” This is repeated until they eventually lose the ball.

The opposition dashes in and steals the pass or knocks down the intended recipient so they can get the ball. Then they do the same damn thing. This may explain the lack of scoring.

I remember when the high school coach first introduced us to soccer. It was very scary. You were expected to “field” a ball that had travelled two thirds the length of the field on a fly with your head! Were they kidding? Most of us managed to “misjudge” and let it hit the ground.

In view of stuff I have seen recently on National Geographic Channel, your head was never intended to sustain this kind of  impact. The brain moves back and forth inside the skull and little blood vessels rupture. You can’t tell me this is not happening when you get smacked in the head with a ball traveling 50 miles an hour.

Coach assured us that it would not hurt. That is because the pain-sensing part of the brain is disabled by the impact. I am sure that must be how it works.

Why was coach such a fount of misinformation? Well, it seems he used to play soccer.

Bill Abrams resides, and smartly avoids the soccer field, in Pine Plains.

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