Kicking around soccer

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 11, 2003

In more than 15 years of doing this, I’ve written about many controversial subjects – race, religion, politics – and along the way angered a lot of people.

Interestingly, I’ve found there are few issues that upset people as much as soccer. Soccer moms in particular are fanatical defenders of the sport. I’ve poked fun at the sport in print a couple times, the last being about five years ago and vowed never to do so again. But events of the past week have forced me to muster my courage.

Tuesday night’s soccer game or match, whatever it’s called, between Lakeland and Deep Creek high schools was ended 10 minutes early because of a bench-clearing brawl. According to eyewitnesses, even hooligan high school soccer parents stormed the field to partake in the melee.


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As punishment, both teams have to forfeit their few remaining games. There’s even talk of eliminating beer sales next season.

That there was a brawl didn’t surprise me nearly as much as finding out that the schools actually had soccer programs. Worldwide, soccer is a primitive game played by primitive people, people who are unable to abide by, or even comprehend, rules of a civilized society and who are incapable of expressing their emotions through any means other than violence.

If all traces of soccer were obliterated from mankind’s collective memory effective tomorrow morning, by lunchtime some child in a third world country, bored while waiting for his mother to finish cooking the dog, will have invented the game, and by dinner time it will have evolved to the sophistication level of the game we know and love today.

It is the basest form of human amusement – kicking a ball and running around. It’s a lot like kickball, without all the strategy and excitement.

Actually, history is ambiguous on the origins of soccer. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, there are two theories to how it evolved. One being that it was invented some time back in the mid-1980s by a group of suburban California parents whose children were incapable of following rules,

who were too short to put a ball through a hoop and inept at throwing, hitting or catching any smaller, harder type of ball. There’s also the theory espoused by two-dimensional, animated Texas philosopher Hank Hill that it was invented by European women who needed something to do while their husbands cooked dinner.

While, spiritually and philosophically I’m usually in tune with Hill, in this instance I adhere to the former theory because I know soccer didn’t exist when I grew up in southern West Virginia in the early ’70s. There were lots of kids in my neighborhood and we gathered every day to play football, baseball or basketball. Playing soccer never occurred to us and had anyone suggested it, he would have been ridiculed and pummeled as surely as if he wearing a dress when making the suggestion.

Seriously, I hope our readers will forgive me for indulging in a little harmless fun. Before anyone tries to run me down in their mini-van, let me state for the record that I know soccer is a physically demanding, macho sport, it’s practitioners highly skilled, finely tuned athletes. Be that as it may, what happened during last week’s Lakeland-Deep Creek game is unacceptable on any level. Kids who fought should be expelled and adults who set foot on the field brought up on criminal charges. I hope there’s video floating around somewhere. Their actions reflect poorly on themselves, their schools and our entire community. A little ridicule is no more than they deserve and perhaps can serve to discourage such lunacy in the future.

Andy Prutsok is editor and publisher of the News-Herald.