As much as I am an avid fan of soccer at all levels - local, recreational, competitive, MLS, and international - I have my priorities in place.
During the past World Cup, out of 64 games, I managed to view into the 50s. I'm on track to that number again this time around. That doesn't mean LIVE. That means life necessitates employing the "record" button on the DVR. Sometimes that means not seeing a game at all.
And that is perfectly fine.
I have favorites in this competition, but I have PEOPLE in front of me who matter far more.
The blog has been a bit thin lately because I am busy with the PEOPLE in my life. I have a daughter get ready for her first year of college. A daughter attending community college this summer to free up her senior year schedule. Another daughter still working her ass off during the off season so she is ready to hit the pitch when her club's Boot Camp rolls around August 1.
Plus, it's summer. That means I have the privilege of having them all accessible a lot more - we DO things. Even if it means just lazing around on my bed watching an afternoon movie - we do it. My time with them is precious, and it is also ticking away.
I so wish more people grasped the importance, the value, THE HONOR bestowed on them when a child enters their life.
But they don't. For so many children they are relegated to the nuisance pile, the To Do list, the pain-in-the-ass column on life's spreadsheet.
Their basic needs become tedious to their caregivers. Hunger, pain, diapers, tears - all held against them like they did it on purpose and should be punished.
Which brings me to a tiny 2 year old girl in McAllen, Texas.
On Saturday as billions around the world tuned in to watch the USA take on Ghana in the World Cup, her stepfather, Hector Gonzalez, 27, did the same.
And the little girl dared to cry at some point, which I guess was more irritating than a vuvuzela because Hector beat her to death. Her little body was found by police - ribs broken, and a screw shoved down her throat in an attempt to make it look like she had choked.
Gonzales confessed to beating her because she wouldn't stop crying during the game.
On a comment board at a news site this morning, some asshat stated that he expected all the soccer fans to "defend this by telling us again how 'we don't understand the passion of the game.'"
Defend the murder of a 2 year old girl?
I hope you're not holding your breath for that because you'll be turning blue and passing out.
No sporting event, game, match, bet, or team loyalty is worth a person's life. Not at a NASCAR race, a Final Four game, the Super Bowl, the World Series, a hockey playoff, or a match in the World Cup.
Yet at all these events, or during viewing them at home - people get into ridiculous drunken riots, fights, shootouts.
I have news for you, if you don't like Spain and want to tell me Sergio Ramos is a crap player, I'm not coming for you with an Uzi. IT'S A GAME. My freedom is much more important to me than to get into some pissing contest over a player in a sport. And my ego is not so frail that I hang it on some guy I will never meet.
If Spain doesn't advance today, I highly doubt you'll read of my suicide tomorrow. I won't kick my dog if she wants out during the game. And I'm fairly certain the world will not spin off its axis if the quarter finals go on without their participation.
A child is dead. THAT is important to me. The rest is just so much vuvuzela background noise.
You've probably the seen the pictures and story floating around the internet of Oscar, the cat with the new bionic back legs, but here's a link to video of him taking his first steps. I teared up - you might, too.
It's almost July. In Texas, as in many places in the country, that doesn't mean much in terms of new temperatures. We've been solidly in the 90's for a month now, and we've been wearing shorts for a lot longer than that.
But as summer arrives all over, bringing suntans, lazy days around the pool, and countless popsicles - it also brings with it the deaths of many of our youngest, and most vulnerable.
PLEASE CHECK YOUR CARS BEFORE GETTING OUT AND GOING ABOUT YOUR DAY.
Last year, 33 helpless infants and toddlers met unimaginable, and totally preventable, deaths when forgotten and left in what amount to ovens with wheels.
We are well on our way to meeting and exceeding that number in 2010. Since the beginning of the year, the USA death toll stands at 18, with EIGHT of them in the past 12 days alone.
Sadly, many of those deaths are happening not only to children who are left in vehicles, but to little ones who choose to play in their family's parked vehicles, quickly finding themselves trapped and far too small to make their way out. (Lock your vehicles so they may not be used as playscapes or in games of hide and seek.)
I have written about this each summer, and while I do sympathize with the loss the parents who lose their children to their own inattention endure - I do not sympathize with the inattention. Your child is more important than your routine, your cell phone call, you listening to sports scores on the radio, or any meeting you may be headed towards as you bundle the child into your vehicle.
"I forgot." I can think of no more pathetic, inexcuseable reason from a parent. And in the heart of that parent, they know exactly how pathetic and inexcuseable it is, too.
Forget your briefcase. Forget your sack lunch. That's fine. But forgetting your own child? I will never understand that. And I have had year upon year of babies and carseats riding behind me. Not once did I, or Rudy, ever forget we had the precious gift of life depending on us.
Does that sound harsh towards those parents who have to face their own failing? Yes, and it is meant to.
Just as a baby or toddler will die if you forget to feed him/her, so, too, will they die if you simply forget they exist in the backseat.
As parents, we simply must do better. These children deserve better.
If you only do one thing this summer - Look before you lock.
Whoa. I know, you're glad you were sitting down for that, huh?
That being said, I actually have begun to enjoy the ignorant American comments which have run rampant since the World Cup began June 11th. From the ones who can't distinguish a soccer ball from any other type of sporting equipment, to the blowhards to proclaim "0-0 is not a score", "nothing happens," and "it's boring," to Glenn Beck's truly craptastic rant:
“I don’t get the baseball thing, but the soccer thing, I hate it so much — probably because the rest of the world likes it so much, and they riot over it, and they continually try to jam it down our throat… It doesn’t matter how you sell it to us. It doesn’t matter how many celebrities you get. It doesn’t matter how many bars open early. It doesn’t matter how many beer commercials they run. We don’t want the World Cup. We don’t like the World Cup. We don’t like soccer. We want nothing to do with it. You can package it any way — you can spend all kinds of money. You can force it on our television sets. We will not enjoy the World Cup.”
I laugh because sometimes ignorance is just plain funny. And when Glennda goes all 2 year old, believing if he closes his eyes, whatever he doesn't like disappears? That is hilarious.
Because in all of the above cases, especially Beck's, they are just plain wrong.
Look, I don't give a rat's red rump about basketball. Football is a waste of my time. Baseball puts me to sleep. And NASCAR has no place in my viewing schedule. But the fact that I don't enjoy or embrace these sports doesn't make them less real to other people, and their enjoyment of them doesn't threaten me in the least.
Yet somehow, soccer scares the bejesus out of some people.
As for 0-0? If you understand the game, a helluva lot went on in the 90 minutes that ended in a draw. The men or women did not sit on the pitch and play Tiddlywinks for an hour and half. It wasn't a waste of time, and I guarantee you it wasn't boring.
It takes a level of athleticism that truly cannot be appreciated until you watch a game and realize the players don't stop moving. It's not like football where 10 seconds somehow magically morphs to 25 minutes. The average midfielder runs over 7 miles a game.
And to those who think, "Well hell, anyone can kick a ball." Really? Give it a shot. Switch a field and see how accurate you are. It takes years of practice and dedication to honing the skills necessary to lift, bend, and deliver that ball from one side of the field to THE FOOT of another player.
Take a corner kick and see if you even come close to the goal.
As for Beck's assertion that the rest of the world ...continually try to jam it down our throat?
News flash, Glenn. The rest of the world doesn't give two shits in a whirlwind whether we play the game or not. THEY - meaning every other country - play the game. We are late to the party, and believe me our attendance is not mandatory. The world has been playing soccer for centuries without our help.
It IS the world's game. Not football, Glenn, futbal. And the World Cup is an accurate moniker for this event, as opposed to the World Series, or the World Champions in the Super Bowl, because it actually involves, you know, THE WORLD.
We don’t want the World Cup. We don’t like the World Cup. We don’t like soccer. We want nothing to do with it.
I loved that. Laughed my ass off at it actually.
Beck, YOU are not WE. And your ignorance of the game won't make it go away. Step outside your BS bubble over Labor Day weekend. Hell, here's an open invite to Austin, Texas. I'll be your host for the Labor Day Cup, sponsored by my daughters' competitive club. You can feast your eyes on just how WE don't like soccer. There will be over 500 teams from all over the country in attendance. Watch some games. Talk to the spectators, talk to the players, the trainers. See if they want nothing to do with it. (Can't get to Austin? Pick a city - there are competitive clubs EVERYWHERE with truly stellar talent at every age.)
Finally, let's take this little nugget: We will not enjoy the World Cup.
Well, gee, looky there - wrong again. There's been a heck of a lot of enjoying going on everywhere I look. Bars, restaurants, home parties, cinemas streaming the games on their huge screens. It looks a lot like enjoyment to me.
I spent this afternoon at a viewing party with a bunch of 13 year old Division 1 competitive players (translation: they can kick ass), and while they all have favorite teams playing in the World Cup (because they follow the international play throughout the year - not just the domestic MLS teams - and admire so many of the players - Carson's team is Spain - mine too), today they were cheering on the men who were bringing their sport to the fore - the US Men's National team - a team comprised of players who play on club teams all over the world. For example, Tim Howard - the keeper - is generally acknowledged as one of the top 10 keepers IN THE WORLD, and plays for Everton in the English Premier League.
And because they "get" it, there were cheers during the game, a lot of coaching from the sidelines, and finally, tears when it was over.
And to those who have pissed themselves with glee today over the USA's defeat by Ghana, thinking that now we'll stop watching, stop talking about soccer, that somehow YOU WIN?
Was the USA defeat a hard one? Yes. Especially to anyone who knows the game, and appreciates the devastating effect a single goal can have. Anyone who understands the demands being made on the bodies of those young men as they played 94 minutes, then rolled into two 15 minute overtimes broken only by a single minute of halftime, knew how hard they were trying to turn the tide in those final desperate minutes.
There is a reason you saw players drop to the field when the final whistle blew signaling Ghana's win. Their tears were as much from exhaustion as from the disappointment of watching a dream stay 1 goal out of reach.
But the World Cup didn't end today. WE will still be watching it every day until a new WORLD CHAMPION raises the trophy on July 11. Because We want the World Cup. We like the World Cup. We like soccer. We want everything to do with it.
Soccer doesn't need Glenn's permission, or anyone else's, to be embraced, played, LOVED in this country. It is here. It is here to stay. And as the talent continues to grow in the youth ranks, it really is not a question of if, but simply of when the USA will bring that gold trophy home to these shores. (And if you still don't enjoy it? That will be perfectly fine with me.)
Now, I'm heading to bed because my England boys take on Germany in the morning, followed by Mexico vs Argentina in the afternoon.
I think what is most sobering about this sequence of satellite shots of the Gulf is that it only goes up to May 24th...God only knows what true devastation lies underneath and is ahead of us as the oil continues to spew, move, and face the unpredictability of hurricane season.