Soccer Is Life

23 07 2015

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More than any other sport, soccer is life.

When asked to qualify my love for the sport, I immediately go to the usual reasons – the flow of the game, the constant movement, the consistency of the rules, the athleticism of the players, no stoppages or timeouts, only three subs, blah blah blah…

I also lean very heavily on the supporters culture – being there for the team, and each other, no matter what.

The events of past two days in my little corner of the football world enabled me to hone in on the best reason to love the beautiful game. On any given day, any team can beat any other team… regardless of payroll, professional or amateur, or league level.

Two days ago my Philadelphia Union won a U.S. Open Cup match they had no business winning. Down a man for 75% of the match, conceding a late equalizer, each player dead on his feet… they prevailed against a much more powerful opponent. Eleven buses full of Union fans made the trip to Red Bull Arena to witness what may have been the finest moment in the history of this young franchise. I was there!!

481612286My euphoria was short-lived, as the U.S. National Team (the men) were shocked by Jamaica in the semi-final of the Gold Cup last night. Jamaica… a team that ON PAPER had no business winning a game against the mighty United States of America. That may be debatable… but the result left me shocked and bummed, and sent tournament officials into a tizzy trying the figure out how to promote a USA-less final at the big stadium. A lesson learned.

In soccer and in life, you better be prepared and always at the top of your game. These “upsets” happen all year long, in competitions all over the world. This is the beauty of my game. And because I love it so much, the highs are that much higher and the lows are that much lower.

But there is another match against another team who could show us another lesson. Today the American Outlaws are licking their wounds and figuring out the best way to support their team at the next match, in that little stadium by the river. And the Sons of Ben are getting ready to head to DC to support the Union.

Why? Because it’s what we do. Its part of what makes soccer beautiful, and why I love it so.

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Book Covers – Revisited

12 07 2015

It was an interesting weekend.

I had a fantastic time at the soccer game yesterday – tailgating and watching a Philly Union win with family and a bunch of friends. There were fireworks too! Today, I spent the afternoon learning… trying to get an inbound marketing certification.

Inbound marketing deals with leads and selling. It has buzzwords like SEO, analytics and other key concepts that helps your information to be found by Google search.

For a personal blog post like this, I don’t worry about search, or keywords, or anything like that. In my very first post – over two years ago – I stated that “I shall write for myself and let the chips fall where they may.” I keep to that…

But I’ll be honest… recognition makes me feel good. Whether it’s a positive or negative comment, or a social media share, or someone just saying that they like what I am doing. Earlier this year I wrote a post about bullying that, for whatever reason, was viewed close to 50,000 times. It was stunning to me, but it taught me that you can never predict what will strike a chord with people.

My previous most viewed post was entitled “Book Covers“… where I wrote about not judging people by their appearances. More specifically, it was about a young woman named Jessie who lost her life while giving birth to her son.

Yesterday I met Cheryl, that young woman’s mother. She works with my wife, and came to the game with another co-worker. I was happy to arrange for them to come to the supporter’s tailgate, and Cheryl was able to meet some of the people who were such a big part of Jessie’s life. I was so glad to hear that they were able to share a couple of beers and some memories.

But the best part of my day was the few minutes of conversation when we met just before the game. She asked me for a hug, and told me that she had read my story about her Jessie.  I was not aware that she knew of the post, or me.

I asked her how long it had been, and she responded quickly, “Nineteen months.” I replied that more time had passed than I thought. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Not that long at all.” She teared up a little, and so did I. And that was the last word on the subject. A moment shared.

We all had a great time, and lots of laughs. I think she was glad to be at the stadium for the first time, to finally share in an experience so important to her daughter. I told her she must come back because she is good luck for the team! And because it’s probably one of a multitude of things that can bring her closer to Jessie.

I can’t imagine losing a child. Clearly that pain remains after nineteen months, and I’m sure it won’t lessen in nineteen years, or ever. But I think Cheryl has the right idea… Experiencing some of Jessie’s joys will, in small ways, bring her back. And keep her close.