Once upon a time, long before you were born, soccer was played on fields (made of grass) that popped up here and there–next to schools, in public parks, maybe in a field surrounded by trees. (I know!) Now the fields are made of crumb-rubber infilled synthetic turf–“blades” of grass-shaped polypropylene or polyethylene attached to a backing material, upon which is poured two to three pounds of ground-up tires per square foot. And you often find these fields in soccer complexes, some of which sell naming rights (Scheels All Sports paid the small sum of $625K for the rights at Overland Park Soccer Complex), all of which prominently feature multiple fields divided by vinyl-coated chain link fences, sometimes elaborate concessions operations, and dedicated spots for medal-awarding and picture-taking, because ultimately if there are no losers, the soccer will have just been for helping players develop and possibly for fun. (I know!) Should you find yourself in one of these complexes, puzzling over what to do with the five hours between the last game and the finals (your prayers that your child’s team will miss the finals so you don’t have to drive two hours home in the dark having failed because you are godless), try to find a park where you can sit on the grass in the sun, near a dam and some trees, and watch ducks do what can only be described as playing.
Should you find yourself lost somewhere southwest of Kansas City, seek direction at Garmin Olathe Soccer Complex, just east of Raven Crest and Eagle Crest and Woodland Manor, though good luck finding any ravens, eagles, or woodlands, and across the road from Corporate Ridge, where you will see no ridges but lots of corporate at Garmin International Product Support. Delight at the profanity hurled toward poorly paid referees from the spittle-flecked lips of the middle-aged and their apple-cheeked spawn. Look deep inside yourself and wonder where the impulse to walk the sidelines handing out copies of the Laws of the Game of association football comes from. Find nothing. Write bad poetry. See you next weekend.