Friday, May 23, 2008


James Lileks at his daughter's school track-and-field day.........

It made her very happy to see me. Odd how expectations change – my mom never came to watch, even though she was the model of an Involved Parent. My dad? He was working. Dads didn’t leave work to watch their kids kick a soccer ball. For that matter, kids didn’t kick soccer balls. I don’t think they had soccer balls in North Dakota until 1981; it was brought in on a special train and placed behind glass and people got to walk around it and get close, if they felt comfortable, and become accustomed to its strange surface. It is faceted, yet round. It doesn’t seem like a gateway sport that leads inevitably to socialism. Maybe we should give it a try. No, we had baseballs. Hard, unforgiving, painful, American baseballs. When it came at your head you got out of the way. Now in the space of a single generation we’ve trained the young to stick their heads into the path of an oncoming ball.

I recall playing a pseudo-soccer game that allowed handling the ball if you could catch it in the air or kick it up to yourself. We played on the football field so we could use the goal posts. Actual soccer was pretty much nonexistent.

This confirms what we've all suspected.....

She did as well as expected – second place in the soccer-ball kick, a “participant” in the 500-yard-dash. Adults use that word to boost self-esteem, but the kids know what it means. “I got a loser ribbon,” she said.

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