Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Power corrupts, youth soccer edition 

Littlest Scholar took up soccer this year. I am not a big fan of the professional game, and am even less of a fan of youth soccer. The sight of thirty-somethings shouting "Go Jenny!!!!!!!" to their seven year old in a glob with eighteen other seven-year-olds suggests to me nothing short of the end of civilization-as-we-know-it. And for her first ten years on the planet Littlest agreed, and we referred to the kids on the field as "the herds" the fields near our house that from three blocks away can be heard during the height of summer with soccer parents shouting as "the herd prarire."

But this spring LS announced she would like to try the game after all, and so we went. While her interests have changed mine have not, and despite seeing my own child dart and weave around the field -- at least at this age the herd-like behavior sort of disappears -- I confess to being utterly bored with the games. What is nice that I can walk to and from with the requisite ten-dollar chair plucked from WalMart. And because it's the park where I walk in conversation with cigars from distant lands, I take one to help relieve the tedium.

Last night was the last regular season game, and per custom I had set up off to a side, downwind of the crowd. I do not wish to annoy others with cigar smoke; many of the parents of LS' team had seen me with my 52-ring friends and commented on how I enjoy life. And I do! But last night at about the twelve-minute mark, the referee waited for a break in the action and walked over to me. "There's no smoking anywhere in this park."

"Oh? I've smoked down here for years," I said, and took off to see the park rules sign, which was conveniently next to the field on which the game took place. There are limits on dogs and cats, golfing, glass, and almost anything else. (I was sure there was a rule about Republicans in the park too, but since Dave Kleis became mayor I think that one has been repealed, thank God.)

"Sorry, but when we use the park, no smoking."

Even in soccer leagues, we have the anti-smoking crowd. Even outside. Do they think I might be influencing the female players to take up cigars?

But if I signed something that said I would not smoke at the game, I would be happy to oblige. And other than this, this particular ref was very professional and pleasant. I thought he was a nice guy. So I put out a very nice cigar.

I then went and looked at the forms. No references to smoking appear.

Unfortunately I will not be here for the playoff games so I will not get a chance to challenge this fellow. But I hope LS plays soccer next season. Because I will be there. And I will light up.