Sports & Society

Futbol is for Communists

In Sports & Society by Brad Wise

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Brad Wise

Brad Wise

I remember standing near the concession stand on a cool Saturday morning watching all my 4th grade classmates play soccer. I held a hot chocolate close to my lips—letting the steam warm my face—with deep judgement in my heart. My poor school pals had no idea what they were doing; their dads must not have warned them. But they were playing a communist sport. They were communists. All of them in their matching shirts.

My dad, a tenured football coach, was kind enough to explain it to me. Not communism. I had no clue what that was. But it sounded bad. And this sport where you couldn’t touch the ball seemed to be this communism’s evil pastime.

So, like a good American, I never played the lousy sport.

By college I knew my dad’s anti-soccer ethos was at least 51% jest. But it was still fun to be a vocal member of his club.

Fast forward a decade. I’m married with one dog (Miss Jackson) and we just moved into a house in Cincinnati. Life was grand.

Then our house caught on fire.

It’s long story. I’ll write about it at some point I’m sure. But that weekend, with no living room to watch a movie from Blockbuster, we had open plans. So we went to my cousin Leslie’s soccer match. Her high school was in the playoffs playing their conference rival. As far as soccer goes, it was very exciting.

At some point I got up and started walking around. I still didn’t understand the rules. But I loved my cousin so much that I didn’t even have fun judgement inside me. I just didn’t really get it.

Then it happened. Toward the end of the match, the game tied and/or scoreless (I can’t remember), Leslie was hopping around midfield watching the action when the ball popped out her way. I was down behind the goal. I can still picture it. She took a couple powerful steps to the ball and booted it up in the air, it arced and then whooshed into the goal. I went crazy. The team went crazy. She just won the game.

And in that moment I changed teams to the communists. I suddenly liked soccer.

A couple years later, I watched the 2010 World Cup with a childlike fascination, eager to understand and craving the buzz of vuvuzelas.

A couple years later, at home with a newborn, I changed diapers while watching the women’s World Cup.

A couple years later—now—I have another newborn at home. I was texting with Leslie Friday about Brazil’s opening win and how I’m going to be changing diapers again while watching the beautiful game she opened my eyes to. It’s a bond that we both love.

So … sorry, Dad. But I think the Universe wanted me to be a communist. And, ironically, I’m going to use your WatchESPN login to watch the World Cup this year. Perhaps when you come down to visit you’ll even get to change a diaper or two while holding your granddaughter. I’ll keep watching the beautiful game.

Photo (Flickr CC) by Joe Shlabotnik

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Brad Wise

Brad Wise

Featured Storyteller
Brad is the Chief Creative Officer for Rebel Pilgrim Productions and co-founder of Rebel Storytellers. He co-hosts the Rebel Storytellers Podcast with Steve Fuller. And when he's not doing all that he's hanging out with his beautiful wife, Leah, and their kids, Henry and Jane. Their hound dog, Lola, is usually close by as well.
Brad Wise

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