My American Family – Soccer League

american-family.jpg I haven’t said this before, but I’m in New York now… I moved a few weeks ago to find my dream job in the city and am staying with a friend on Long Island in the meantime. The cool thing is that my friend lives with an American host family. She’s been here forever, so she’s part of the family. This is the first time I’ve lived with an American family and I’m enjoying it to the nth degree! There’s no better marketing than to live what I’m living now. I’ll have so much to write about.

Today I went to watch Brandon play soccer as part of a tournament the schools are having this winter. This was a great American experience for me, since I haven’t done much typical American things since I’ve been here. Not that soccer is an American thing, but the gathering was.

When we got at the high school where the games were being played, we entered this huge high school hall (something I’ve only seen in movies) where all the parents were with their kids taking a break in between games. Next to the corner, there were tables with people behind them selling food: hot dogs, pretzels, “snoco”, popcorn, water, soda and a few more things. I was surprised to see all that food there. My first thought was: “why the food? This is a sports event, you don’t eat when playing.”

When I played volleyball as a kid and competed in tournaments against other clubs, the last thing on my mind, my teammates’ minds and parents’ minds, was food. We got there earlier so we could gather around the coach to concentrate, discuss the strategy and warm up, NOT to eat or even think about it. And eating before playing is also not a good thing to do, so…. I really didn’t understand all the food around.

Well, I do understand it. Events like that are more of a social and entertainment nature (which automatically involves food) than a serious sports competition for both the kids and the parents…  that, in fact, is exactly what I don’t understand! I don’t understand why sports event like that is entertainment here. Sports to me are a serious thing, it takes discipline (which eating before playing is clearly not), it takes concentration and it takes determination, drive to win. I didn’t see any of the three in those kids who played today, which is extremely sad. At one point, the kids were more interested in eating hot dog and pretzels than playing. It scared me. As for the parents, they were also more interested in feeding the kids (and keeping them happy) than they were in giving them moral support, preparing them for the game.

In my days, there was no food. There’s no need for food. We were not there to be entertained; we were there to play and win. We played the best we could; we fought together, we laughed and celebrated together… we cried together. It was about how important the sport and our effort and training were to us. Nothing else mattered.

I miss that, I miss being involved in something that requires discipline, commitment and determination… and not something that’s turned into silly entertainment. I quite don’t get why people here are so driven by just “having fun” as opposed to playing seriously, with your heart and soul. When you put your heart and soul into the game, it’s way more fun and rewarding!


One response to “My American Family – Soccer League

  1. Boa tarde , Katia. Tudo bem? Glad to hear the move to NYC went okay and the culture shock (W Coast to E Coast culture shift, that is!) didn’t get you — although since you’re still living on LI, you’re not really living the full NYC experience yet. 😉

    About the sports seriousness thing, well, you will find that among dedicated, life-long athletes here, but not so much the average populace. Personally I attribute it to a movement here in the US in the 1960-70’s to discourage “intense competition” in children’s sports as too much for their psychic/social development. I recall well the “Rainbow Soccer League” in North Carolina during my college days during the late 1970s (I know, seriously dating myself by that remark! 😦 ) that emphasized only “fun” and all but forbade competition. The kids in the league rarely honed their game, and most did not continue in the sport.

    While I think too much stress on winning at all costs, and the hyperactive “sports Dad” pushing his kid can be bad things, I have often wondered if we in the US did not swing the pendulum in sports so far the other way that we have affected how a whole generation views competition, discipline, focus, determination, and in the process, affected how we act in multiple spheres, (business, trade, international relations, etc.).

    Okay, enough cosmic musing! It’s true, in the US sports is often more a social event than anything else. Just ask anyone who goes to the stadium to see a baseball game. 🙂

    Um abraço,

    P.E. See my blog note about environmental themes among the escolas de samba de Caranaval de 2007? 🙂

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