Ten things that are not fun about soccer

I love to play soccer. Four times a week, I’m out on the field, and whether I’m creating scoring opportunities or tripping over my own feet, I always have a good time. However, the most popular sport in the world is not without its dark side, or a list of ten things that are not fun about it.

1. Watching other people play it.

2. Marking. For those who don’t know the game, this entails following a player from the other team around all over the field, all game long. The idea is that if everyone marks a player, you’ve got the enemy covered, and this decreases their chances of attacking and scoring. If you fail to “stay on your mark,” the over-paranoid goalkeeper will start yelling at you, and she won’t stop until you are “on top” (in a non-sexual way) of your mark. So you’re basically just hanging out with your mark the whole game. You may even exchange some small talk or a few friendly jokes. But when the ball comes your way, it’s all battle. Marking is especially not fun when it’s some 35-year-old meathead who keeps looking at your chest, or some bleach blonde butch who thought it was really funny to grab your ass after you stole the ball away from her, or worse, someone who out-skills you in every aspect of the game.

3. Controversy/Drama. Adult league soccer is no leisurely walk in the park. You think high school was competitive and nasty? I get clocked, tripped, pushed, slide-tackled, and shit-talked-to almost every time I play. And I'm fine with that. But some of my teammates and opponents create added drama by complaining to the refs, talking smack, and allowing their inner bitches/assholes to affect their playing.

4. Shin guard tan. This happens when you play too much soccer in the summer. But then they don’t really go away in the fall, winter, or spring, and then, hey, it’s summer again. If you don’t know what a shin guard tan looks like, you’re missing out on an opportunity to point and laugh at me in mockery. My knees are tan (and usually bruised or scraped), and then below and above my knees, my legs are white. So although my admission of being a soccer player is usually impressive to most potential suitors, I don’t know if I can say the same for the shin guard tan. No matter how gorgeous the dress, I can’t hide it.

5. Playing hungover. Since I’m a total boozer on the weekends and my games are always on Saturday and Sunday mornings, I often have to restrain my drinking in order to play the next morning with a clear head. However, this doesn’t always happen. The last time I played hungover, I spent the first ten minutes of the game marveling at how I was able to play, making loud and annoying attempts at humor (much like I did the previous night), and generally not really giving a shit about the game. I was so clumsy I ended up twisting my ankle. So, I learned a lesson that game, but the hungover soccer has happened since then and might happen next weekend. Sometimes I’m just not willing to compromise my alcoholism for soccer.

6. Playing goalkeeper. The all-time worst position on the soccer field. No wonder field players have to take turns playing it—no one can get any right-minded soccer player to play it the entire game because it just sucks. You have to stay in that box and shots flying at you from everywhere, and one goes in, it’s like, man, instant disappointment, the antithesis of scoring a goal. As a keeper, it is also your responsibility to constantly yell at people and tell them what to do (because obviously, they have no idea). You don’t get any exercise, and when you do it’s chasing the ball down the street when it goes out of bounds. And you don’t even get to wear the same uniform as everyone else (and goalkeeper jerseys always look like a rubick’s cube on an acid trip). Back in the day, we were in the state tournament and I scored a goal…on my friend…who was our keeper. This was a freak accident that ended up costing us the match, and aside from feeling like a total loser who should get kicked off the team, I remember feeling really bad that I had done that to my friend, because being a goalie sucks enough already without having your own teammate/friend put one past you.

7. Subbing. I’m not tired…I don’t want to come out and have to actually watch the game. I forgot my book, and even if I have it and start reading, I’m going to look like I’m not serious about soccer. Believe me, I am. Just put me back in.

8. Playing an inferior team and beating them by a score of 8-0, or more. Unless you’re Mia Hamm and David Beckham’s love child, you have probably been in a miserable situation where your team was just getting killed. When the tables turn, you may find yourself on the team taking the shitty team to school. You’ll notice that an unmatched game is really not fun for either team. Some players enjoy this opportunity to “work on our two-touch passing game” or “only score header goals,” but I can’t wait to get off the field.

9. Throw-ins. What otherwise brilliant creator of the game of soccer thought of this detail? Let’s wreck the beauty of a game where you’re not supposed to use your hands by adding out-of-bounds throw-ins. In my Tuesday night league, throw-ins are mysteriously outlawed, and instead you just kick it in. I never thought about how pointless throw-ins are until I started playing in this league. Now, I know this is a controversial topic, and many of my teammates will not agree with me (especially she who has the arm strength to throw the ball across the entire field), but I am definitely on the fuck-throw-ins side.

10. The halftime talk. This is when a coach (we have no coaches, but the bossy players are more than happy to assume the role) tells the players at halftime EXACTLY what’s going on out there, what improvements can be made, second-half strategy, etc. Although it is helpful for other players, this ritual conflicts with the reason why I love and play soccer as much as I do. It’s the only one of my activities where I don’t have to think, where every decision is an impulse. If I wanted to think about soccer strategy, I’d be dominating the MSL chat room right now.


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