Foul Weather, Fair Play

Thursday, November 13, 2014

 Foul Weather, Fair Play
In honor of my brother’s birthday: a story of one brutal soccer game played brilliantly.

It’s one of the coldest nights I’ve felt in a while, and everyone in the stands is wrapped up in jackets as thick as blankets, huddled around in groups so that we barely feel the misty drizzle falling from the sky. I cringe when I see my brother (the star player of course) take a cleat to his bare-skinned leg because I know the combination of wet and cold can make a kick a million times more brutal. He’s a trooper, though, and the game continues on, but then another player on my brother’s team collapses onto the ground. We’re all expecting the ref to blow the whistle and call a foul, but the player just lies there on the ground while the game continues on as if nothing ever happened.

“Oh my gosh!” I exclaim to my sister and mother who are sitting beside me. “They didn’t call a foul.”

“What the hell!” The man, whom I think might be the hurt player’s father, yells from a few feet beside me. “What the hell! You better call that! That’s a foul goddammit! Call it! WHAT THE HELL!”

My father, the coach of the team, turns to glare through his thick, oval glasses at the man yelling.

“That enough!” My dad shouts.

I want to laugh because he looks like an angry penguin. He’s dressed head-to-toe in black with white lettering on his chest, and his glasses are just large enough to be considered ridiculous. But even looking like an arctic bird, my father is not someone you argue with. The man yelling mutters something under his breath, but stops shouting at the ref.

“That’s good. He’ll get himself kicked out yelling at the ref like that. They don’t tolerate that kind of stuff.” My mother whispers to no one in particular.

Then the attention is on the game again. Our team in the white jerseys is crowding around the goal. We have the ball, and I think we might score. The hurt player is up and involved in the game. It’s the cold. I think. It makes the pain feel worse, even though everything’s fine. I expect the night will have many more dramatic falls that don’t get called as fouls. 

The team in black swarms the goal in an attempt to keep the players in white from scoring. Everyone in the stands leans forward a bit, the tension practically palpable.

“Come on. Come on.” I chant to myself as the intensity rises.

Beside me, my sister says “I think we’re going to score another goal.”

And we do.

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