Monday, October 18, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities

The other day I was engaged in what is quickly becoming a ritual for me on the weekend. Assess a match in the AM, coach Junior in the midday, and assess another match in the late PM.

For whatever reason, this series struck a particular chord with me as I had the opportunity to traverse two very distinct parts of the state to assess a competition in the same sport, with very different surroundings.

In the morning, I was in central Massachusetts at Progin Park. This is truly a marvelous complex. Wide open spaces and farmland as far as the eye could see (I even stopped at a farm stand for a peck of empire apples on the way to Jr.'s match). It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop, even when the match was going on. A sleepy Saturday morning was barley interrupted by a very competitive adult league match, and the smell of cool clean air was abound.

In the afternoon however it was the opposite in many regards. In the shadow of the John Hancock building, at a local urban high school, another adult league match was played. This environment while beginning fairly quietly, continued with the raucous sounds of emergency vehicles speeding by, loud Latin music, and a chorus of epithets yelled at the referees, players, and coaching staffs alike from the spectators voicing their displeasure about a variety of things in no fewer than 3 languages. Further, the (delicious) smell of food for the teams cooking on charcoal grills brought by the teams was wafting through the air as the sun set.

What's the point you ask? Everyone was there for the same reason, THE game.

While the players came from different backgrounds, the intent of the gathering, and the result, was exactly the same, to play a game.

This may seem exceedingly obvious to some, and in some regards it is to me as well. However for more than a moment, sitting there in Boston, watching a match, it continued to crystallize to me just how much of a unifying force THE game is.

You could take any number of the teams and move them around, even go to a completely different location, tell a few folks about it and they will show up to watch the game. It's kind of amazing really. This is not (generally) due to being forced to go, or some sense of obligation, people genuinely wanted to be there.

I watched spectators in both matches freezing their a$$es off watching these matches and players (some well past their prime) doing the same and chancing injury, just to get together for a couple of hours. Afterwards, everyone shook hands, thanked each other for the match, and left to have a meal and spend more time together in a more relaxed social setting, adding to the social fabric of the universe in the process. All in the name of a game.

Soccer is life.

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