I remember my father explaining to me why soccer, or football is considered The Beautiful Game. There are many explanations, myths, historical moments that define nations, rabid fans, flowing movements found within 90 minutes, inspiration and ecstasy found in the 2 minutes past the 90, the hand of God and Brazilian magicians that this saying can be traced back to, I am sure.
But what I took away from my father related to this game is the roller coaster you are on from the time between the opening whistle and the final, and how it almost never, ever stops. High school, club, player, coach, fan with painted face or poster board for your son or daughter, the ride is there. The admission fee varies, perspectives create debates that echo as legend. It's gut wrenching. It's sheer joy. It's moments of disbelief when a player you've been pushing to take the next step shocks you into belief.
Frustration can be rampant. Anger, fury, the edge is there and you are tempted to lose yourself in the momentary jump off a cliff and berate an official for clearly watching some game other than the one your four months of work, faith, teamwork and passion have led to. It's laughter when the tension breaks.
It's nerves that make the pre-game gumbo or jambalaya difficult to go down because you know the team across the midfield line needs to win to survive. So do you. It's the fact that when your players step over the line, you pray that you have done what you can to prepare them for the chess match ahead. The die is cast. It's knowing that years of youth can end for a High School player when that final second ticks off the clock. It's having seen that moment in locker rooms and on fields over and over and over again. You've been that player yourself.
It's the march to the finish line. It's the playoffs starting tomorrow after months of work this season, day in and day out on the field with a crew of coaches, a brotherhood of teammates, fans, families, administrative staff and sponsors all wrapped up into two whistles, the start and the finish. Tomorrow is win or go home.
photo credits: Camerajunquie