The Fourth of July at Casa de Juando will include St. Louis Style Ribs on the Big Green Egg for 6 hours – Beer Can Chicken on the Weber --- probably a Cerveja or two (or definitely a Cerveja or dois) --- and family and friends … and a couple of amazing World Cup Games. Think about it from a geographic standpoint not just from a four great teams standpoint … Germany-France and Colombia-Brazil. After two weeks in Brazil … my heart is definitely rooting for the Brazilians.
I started with sports when I could walk … every sport – I was one of the three guys on planet earth who was watching competitive Miniature Golf on ESPN in 1980 when ESPN first aired. I fell in love with all sports but madly in love with soccer at age 7. Each year since then (and there have been dozens and dozens … and well … even more dozens of those years that have passed) – I cannot extricate myself from soccer. This same guy who lives and breathes the San Francisco Giants … this same guy who bleeds Oakland Raider Silver and Black (I really do Chris, Steve, and Matt – just hard to not be cynical these past several years)… has never been able to look away from the sometimes-train wreck that is soccer. Of all sports – soccer can be the cruelest. Since I was 16 years old I have coached at least one soccer team each and every year. I have always found it to be a tough teacher that sometimes is a perfect meritocracy.
The USA had a chance to win the most improbable – absolute cruelest victory against Belgium in the closing moments … and it did not happen. I know my son will replay that opportunity in his head forever and ever and ever and never lose the vision of what happened and what could have happened. AND I THINK THAT IS GREAT! --- because I think that may validate all of the passion, money, time, effort, and attention I have ever paid to sports. Because if you are willing to completely own your input into a competitive game – then you implicitly own the result --- you only have control over your input and you have no control over the result. When you are completely happy with your input you accept the result. If any game came down to one specific touch – you would not have to play all 90 minutes and then the sport would be perfect for television – it would simply be an ESPN Top Ten highlight to watch. If I was a dad (well actually I am) - the most important lesson I would want to teach my children is to own the input - that way you own the results (even if you don't like them) - and then if you don't like the results ... figure out how to adjust the input going forward.
That leads me to my favorite thing about soccer … I learned when I was very young that the etiquette of soccer is to “Accept the result”. That means that when the game is over whatever the score is – is what it is – you cannot change it. You shake hands and realize that you had 90 minutes (or more) to influence the outcome and the outcome is the outcome. Those who know me certainly know that during the 90 minutes I can be the most impossible coach to be next to on the sideline (I am working on it people) –but after the final whistle … you accept the results and shake hands and figure out how to be better next time.
I have loved soccer since I was 7 at St. Michaels School in Livermore, California when Father O’Farrell came to the parish and taught the second grade soccer in our Physical Education Class (I think we were kicking a basketball at the time). In my wildest dreams I never imagined the two week adventure in Brazil that not only was I able to take – but I was able to spend it with my son Stephen. Having met the fans from all over the world in person – I love soccer even more than I did before. This coming season I vow to be a little less obnoxious to the referees … a lot more reflective about the lessons being taught on an even playing field that is almost a perfect meritocracy … and smile a lot more about the potential that someone on the field I am watching may someday be able to have the experience that my oldest son did (or even if not that --- the experience that I did --- which was freaking awesome).
For those who have read this blog - thanks! It started out as a way to keep in touch with family and friends while I was in Brazil. If you are a masochist - you may want to keep checking it out from time to time because it will be like 1000 monkeys with 1000 typewriters --- most of it will be useless but someday we might bang out Shakespeare.