If you know who Mia Hamm and Tim Howard are without referencing Google, you know what it’s like to grow up obsessing over soccer (“futbol” for my friends across the pond and, well, everywhere else in the world). Soccer is quickly gaining popularity in the United States, so my family now, more than ever, is proud to let our freak flags fly as we adorn ourselves in Major League Soccer (MLS) jerseys and various versions of Adidas sandals. Clearly, if you're looking for signs your family is definitely obsessed with soccer, you just have to look at my bunch for some guidance.
When I found out I was pregnant with my my first son, one of our first thoughts (outside of how to prepare for parenthood, of course) was, “So, how soon until I can buy this kid some shin guards?” It’s understandable; tiny soccer players running around, kicking soccer balls and arbitrarily falling down all over the place are cuter than kittens and I challenge anyone to say otherwise.
Adorable soccer players aside, if you love soccer as much as my family does, chances are you relate different phases of your life to specific timelines of World Cups and Olympic soccer matches. For me at least, growing up watching Mia Hamm and Michelle Akers was nothing short of pivotal, and arguably shaped me into who I am today. Those women taught me that I could do anything the boys could do; that loving a sport didn't make me any less feminine; that if I worked hard and devoted myself to any particular aspect of my life, I could achieve greatness. That kind of devotion (that I learned from soccer) has made me a better mom, and is arguably the main reason why I want to raise my kids to love the game as much as I do.
Still, the positive life lessons kids can learn from soccer doesn't negate the weirdness they'll undoubtably have to deal with when it comes to their parents. So, if you're part of a soccer-obsessed family, or just wondering if your affinity for the game is borderline intense, here are just a few signs that, yes, you love the game as much as my family does (welcome to the club, my friends).
The World Cup Is A Damn Holiday
Of course we have no shame in painting our face red, white, and blue to watch our team’s matches from our couch, but we’re thrilled to see every match we can during those four to five weeks when soccer is the world’s sport of choice. We’ll yell, curse, and critique the referees as if our life savings is riding on the game. We celebrate when our team celebrates; we'll cry defeated tears when our team loses.
The World Cup only comes around every four years ( technically two if you include both men and women tournaments) so dealing with our rage and irrational emotions is a very brief challenge.
The Olympics Are A Big Deal
Some call it obsession but my family just calls it pride. We know that we’re sort of a pain in the ass while we’re hogging the remote but the Olympics only come around once every four years. If women can endure nine long months of inflated, hormonal torture in the name of procreation, everyone else can handle our family demanding that we watch every soccer game during the Olympics. Fair.
You Log A Lot Of Odd Hours In Order To Keep Up With MLS
In order to keep up with all our favorite players playing in the matches happening overseas, we log some pretty strange hours to keep current.
Our kids have already learned not to be alarmed if they wake up in the middle of the night to one of their parents shouting at the television. It's totally normal, kid. Grab a seat or keep moving.
You Scream "Olay, Olay, Olay, Olay!" Radomly
What is annoying to others is sweet, sweet music to our ears. It’s stuck in your head now, isn’t it? You’re welcome.
You Play Pick-Up Games Well Beyond Your Prime
Call it what you want but in our minds we’re still 18 and in incredible shape. Bicycle kicks and slide tackles don’t scare us one bit (although, they probably should).
Sure, our lung capacity has decreased significantly, as has our speed and strength, but we still believe we can run miles at a time (we can’t) without needing to be resuscitated afterwards.
You Brag About Your Glory Days
That one time we were the MVP of our region, scored a hat trick against our rivals, and started varsity as eighth graders? Yeah, our kids have already heard all of those stories. Twice.
We’re sorry (sort of), but it really was kind of awesome. I mean, if they only could have seen it themselves then maybe they would believe we aren't their old and uncool parents. Also, we can’t wait to witness our own kids' glory days eventually, even if they have absolutely nothing to do with soccer.
You Bought Tiny Shin Guards Before You Bought A Crib
Of course when our kids are older we will encourage them to play whatever sport makes them happy, even if that’s no sport at all. But when they’re four or five and all they really care about is running in circles and playing in dirt, why not put them in a jersey and some shin guards and let them socialize on a field with other like minded four and five -year-olds?
Social skills and aerobic activity- two birds, one stone.
You Always Have All The Snacks
There are "regular moms" and then there are "soccer moms." The soccer moms are the ones that have spent the better part of our lives running up and down that field, then coming to the sidelines during halftime exhausted and starving. We’re also the ones loaded with Gatorade, edible arrangements, and handheld, misting fans. Children, you're the most welcome.
You're That "Annoying" Family That Works Out Together
Soccer is an incredibly aerobic sport and is capable of whipping even the laziest of couch potatoes into the best shape. Even if our kids decide sports aren't their deal (which, of course, is completely fine) we’re still going to stress the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
For us soccer is a family affair, and while it's perfectly OK if our children don't end up playing, they're still going to need to get used to us running across the house shouting “goalllllllllllllll” when our team is on television.