Soccer memories

| May 23, 2008

James Lileks on changes in American childhood:

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 first played soccer — or some very crude equivalent thereof — my senior year of high school (1970-71). After the end of the football season, I skipped my last-period PE class for two months or so, until Coach Roberts ran into me on campus one day and let me know that I’d better get my butt back to gym. One didn’t argue with Coach Roberts. We (by which I mean all the seniors in that class) still did pretty much what we wanted — lifted weights, ran some, dinked around with track and field gear (I briefly contemplated joining the Track team when I discovered an unexpected aptitude for the discus, but we all decided I really wasn’t all that great at it), and generally suited out for an hour before hitting the showers.

Oh, and we played “soccer” on occasion. Of course, this was on a dirt field surrounded in part by low (4′) chain link fences, and tended to look more like Rugby Without Hands. We used at least one of the fences as a field boundary, which meant that you ended up with a few dozen guys scrunched up against the fence, all kicking furiously at the ball and each other. In one such situation, I leveled a mighty kick at the ball — and hit a (metal) fence post instead, doing my best to jam my right big toe back into the middle of my right foot.

I limped for several days and went back to lifting weights.   ..bruce w..

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Category: Games, Humor, Main, Personal

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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