Sitting in a lawn chair watching 5- and 6-year-old girls run around a soccer pitch, I wondered this: Why do we have children?
No, wait. That’s not it.
What I wondered was why aren’t there sparkles and rainbows on uniforms in professional sports and what we can do to change that? If soccer wants to attract the preschool/kindergarten girl demographic, nothing would work better than a match between the Toledo Sparkle-Kittens and the Great Lakes Mermaid-Unicorns.
Or maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know a lot about soccer.
Growing up in my small town during the 1970s, if a child wanted a summer activity that didn’t involve tossing hay bales or castrating pigs, we played baseball because baseball was America. Soccer was something communist and if children played soccer the Soviet Union would win the Cold War and we’d all be forced to endure block housing and bread lines.
Oh, the pressure once placed on America’s youth.
America has mellowed on the game since then. In the early 1970s, an estimated 100,000 Americans played soccer (and were placed on a government blacklist, no doubt). Today that number is more than 25 million (roughly the population of North Korea, a communist country).
None of this has any relation whatsoever with how our preschooler ran around the grass with the other girls yelling, “Kick it to me. Kick it to me,” when she had no idea what to do with the ball if one of them actually had.
I’ll take the blame for that because I have no idea either.
Our other children played youth soccer, and by “played” I mean they were at the game in uniform hoping one of the moms brought juice boxes. At 5, the Boy usually got bored by halftime and spent the rest of the match stationary, shooting the ball with a finger gun as the other players ran past.
And the Girl? A kid on one team kept teasing her during a match and, when faced with adversity, the Girl handled her problem in The Offutt Way.
Opponent to the Girl: “Your face looks like bleh.”
The Girl: “Well, your face looks like $%&#.”
The Offutt Way is the same as the wrong way but with more cursing.
The Preschooler hasn’t cursed out anyone on the soccer pitch, at least not so far. She’s more concerned with the fact that everyone’s running while she’d rather sit and watch.
During the last match, she called it a day halfway through, kind of like Arsenal footballer Sol Campbell who, in 2006, not only quit a game at halftime, he left the stadium, then the country.
Unlike Campbell, she only went to the car.
“Don’t you like soccer?” I asked her after I realized she wasn’t coming back.
“No,” she said, “and I don’t want anyone to see me play.”
All right then. I guess next Saturday we can stay home and watch cartoons.
Jason Offutt’s newest book, “Chasing American Monsters: 251 Creatures, Cryptids, and Hairy Beasts,” is available at jasonoffutt.com.