Monday, May 4, 2009

Soccer Mom

So, today my girls had soccer practice. They're involved in a Parks and Rec team, a very low-key activity with the main goal being for the children to have fun. And really, that's about all I've seen so far - not much skill-building going on there. I tend to think like my friend Annie, who recently shared her Curmudgeonly Considerations on a similar topic. They really aren't learning many soccer skills, such as how to actually make your foot come into contact with the ball. At least they're having fun.

But tonight, the soccer coach decided that at the end of practice, the children should play a scrimmage against their parents. In her words, she thought it would be "fun". Well I don't necessarily agree with her definition of fun, because in my estimation, it would be more in the category of torture. I hate playing sports. I guess it would be more accurate to say that I am deeply tormented by memories of any attempt at playing sports throughout my life. I had extremely bad experiences of gym class from the earliest elementary years all the way through 8th grade. You have no idea how heartily I rejoiced once I finished Jr. High and I was no longer required to participate in Physical Education.

The year 1976 was an Olympic year, so our gym teacher thought it would be "educational" to set up gymnastics equipment. I really have no memory of any of the other equipment besides the rings. For some idiot reason, the rings were suspended about 20 feet off the ground. OK, so it was probably not quite that high, but I was in Kindergarten so I was only about 3 feet tall and everything looked really high to me. We had to climb up on a small platform to reach the rings. The platform was high enough to scare me, but then my teacher had to hoist me up on the rings and make me do a somersault. And I'm sure I was visibly terrified because I knew at any moment I was going to plummet back to earth with an ungraceful splat. However, the teacher made me do it anyway. You know I could probably go back and sue that gym teacher for all the emotional distress that he or she caused me, if I could remember his or her name.

In about 2nd grade, Ms. PE teacher had the brilliant idea to teach us basketball, and by teaching I mean she simply said "Play." So, I had no stinkin' clue how to dribble a ball or what responsibilities that players in different positions had. We just had to play, and it appeared to me that everyone else knew what they were doing except me. So, when we had basketball days in gym class, I would conveniently excuse myself to go to the bathroom until gym was over. I think my teacher eventually caught on, but it still never occurred to her to actually teach us some darn basketball skills.

In 5th grade, I tried to sprain my ankle during dogdeball season. I would run really fast down the gravel road and purposely step in the potholes. I used to deliberately irritate my older brother so he would inflict some kind of brotherly agony upon me, and then I would shout, "go for the ankle!" I once had to get a plantar wart removed, and I asked the doctor to write a note excusing me from PE for the rest of the year. He didn't. I even tried climbing up on our gigantic console TV set and jumping off. But it was all for naught, as I was still forced to participate in the misery of team sports.

Even in college, a friendly game of volleyball with my dearest friends would throw me into a panic. I could usually hit a volleyball with some degree of consistency as long as I was not involved in an actual game. But if the ball ever came to me during a game, I was either
completely immobile, or I was flailing around like an injured animal. And then of course, I would say some dumb thing like "the sun was in my eyes," or sometimes I would choose the simpler option which was to feign death.

Suffice it to say, I have never had any desire to participate in team sports, even for "fun". Because although it may be "fun" to some people, I'd rather have one of my limbs severed.


  1. Jen, you crack me up. Was it torture? Playing out there with the kids?

  2. Totally relatable! I'm a fellow non-team-sport-oriented person! I'm curious if the parents or kids won?

  3. Diane & Crispy - Oh, yeah! I forgot the rest of the story. I did NOT actually play - I sent my husband because I really couldn't do it. I mean REALLY! Apparently the parents won the game.


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