A couple of years ago, my brother asked David and me to join his co-ed indoor soccer team. I knew he was really asking David, but I was part of the co-ed package.
“Yes,” I said without thinking. Growing up in Spain, this was David’s sport of choice and he played in a men’s league. I thought this would be something we could share. Plus it was something active and it seemed like those who played were having fun. So why not? “I’m in.”
“I don’t know,” David said.
I stared at him. “What do you mean you don’t know?”
He stared back at me. “You’re too competitive.”
”What? Me? Competitive?” I laughed a hearty, competitive laugh. “Pah-leeze. I’m not.”
David shrugged at Mark, as if this was a no win situation. “Okay.”
Something I learned that first soccer game and since, I am competitive. I’ve taken on men, women, girls, boys, and refs. I’ve yelled and stomped. I cartwheeled when I had my first goal. I’ve cussed. I’ve told opponents to keep their [email protected]#$% hands and feet to themselves. “Are you blind, ref?” “She started it.” “You’re going to make that call?” “My grandmother would make a better ref and she died seven years ago.”
My brother is the goalie and I play defense and he is just as competitive as I am. It’s like we’re “those” Murphy’s rumbling in a pub in Ireland or in a bar in Boston…only playing soccer and yelling at refs and opponents doesn’t involve alcohol.
Once I’ve calmed down, I’ve considered my competitiveness, and here are my conclusions. Before the age of forty-two and soccer, I’d never played an organized sport. I think I’m making up for all those years in high school when I never went out for soccer, volleyball, cheerleading. And all those years of cheering Molly and Kelly on when they played volleyball, I lived vicariously through them. I’ve never been competitive with my girls, but instead I supported the hell out of them because that’s what I would have wanted my parents to do for me.
I’m the middle aged man who buys a red Corvette and trades in his “old” wife for a newer model to feel young and alive. Soccer makes me feel young and alive.
I know I’m getting older. I know I don’t look like a twenty-year-old. I’m not what I used to be. But I’ll kick your ass. See you on the field.
Are you competitive? What makes you feel young?