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Underwhelming the District

In the "Cult of Escapism": Underwhelming the District

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Underwhelming the District

The day before the first game, the coach of our district’s soccer team informed me that I had been selected for the team. Which would imply that I was one of the best players in the district. “Are you sure?” I responded. I went on to remind him that I am a terrible soccer player and that a district team typically consists of the best in the entire district and that there had to be better men wishing they had been picked. “There are better players” Ruben (the coach) conceded, “but you’re tall and fast and can score goals with your head.”

I’ve played six games of soccer in the past 15 years of my life, all of which have been here. So I know that I am taller than almost every other player in the region (I’m 5’9, by the way) and I am fast and I have scored one apparently very famous goal with my head, but I still wasn’t convinced. I felt bad for whichever superior player was being passed over for me, so I tried to talk my way out:

“Ruben, I’ve scored one goal in my life.”
“It was a great goal.”
“I am fast, but I have poor stamina.”
“You just need to practice more and run one hour every day.”
“But I can’t dribble or pass or shoot the ball very well.”
“We play tomorrow at 7:00am.”

Ok then.

What Ruben never said was: “You’re the only white guy in the district – the novelty is impossible to resist.”
What I never said was: “This is an honor and I should start practicing more and work on my cardio and make everyone proud. But I probably won’t.”

We’ve since played three games and the beginning of every game is the same: the team gathers round the coach and captain (who are brothers), waiting to hear their names. I have started all three games. When mine is called, people look at me the way liberals looked at Obama in 2008 – eyes wide with hope and unrealistic expectations.  

Then I play forward and basically spend 30 minutes running short sprints down the field in pursuit of the ball, which I then inevitably give to the other team. Sometimes they steal it from me; sometimes I fail to control a pass and it rolls past me; sometimes I simply pass it directly to an opposing player. I try to make up for my errors by slamming into opposing players as often as possible. If I can’t intimidate them with my skill, I can at least make them wonder why I have so much arm hair and why I keep unnecessarily slamming into them. Eventually, the coach will realize that my presence is probably preventing real players from scoring actual goals and he subs me out.

And then it happens again the next game: the doe eyes, the expectations, the underwhelming 30 minute performance. It’s as if they think I’m a potential superstar that’s going to Lionel Messify the other team at any moment. I’m not sure what it will take, but I think my white skin and staggering height will continue to confuse and distract them. So will the hairy arms. At least I hope so – I kind of like wearing the cleats and the long socks. 


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