Tuesday, March 30, 2010

two don'ts

Soccer practice today was an easy one. Practice tends to start with the kids passing the ball. We don't all arrive at the exact same time, and of course I usually try to be there early. I need to set the field up both with whatever cones I'll need as well as doing the pencil check.

The field we are currently using is just a big, mostly crappy rectangle of mostly grass and pencils and is part of a local middle school. As kids walk across the grass to and from school they lose a variety of items. I do sometimes find a pen, but for the most part I can count on finding five to ten pencils, most of them broken.

As my team slowly arrives around and about the start time they've learned to just go ahead and start passing the ball as we wait for me to actually start practice. Often they will tend to pair up, and often I'll put them in pairs or groups.

Big Brother and I were running late which means we arrived at five instead of ten till. There was one of my team on the field with his dad and younger brother, and between the three of them they were passing both a soccer ball and a football. Another player was in his car and came to the field as I arrived while a fourth player also soon arrived.

I knew this would be a lightly attended practice. The local kids are out of school on spring break, and it's the week before Easter. We don't even have a game this weekend. As I've done in the past I told the families that I'd be willing to have practice but knew not to expect them all. One kid's mom already told me he'd be at the beach.

So four kids out of twelve and one coach. We spent half of practice just passing the ball between each other in a big circle. I did my best to NOT coach as part of an idea I had for practice. It's arugable that more kids finding the joy in simply passing the soccer ball would increase soccer enjoyment in the US and would then lead to better plays in the US, and no I don't think it's a bit of a stretch, but it's also not why we're here right now. We were all finally thirsty, and when the water break turned into sitting around for an extra five minutes I let it. I picked one of the four team to play with me, and the rest of the practice was just playing soccer, me and the kid versus the other three kids. I told them specifically that it wasn't a scrimmage in fact, and I continued to do my best not to coach. My goal for today was to have fun playing soccer, and none of the kids really wanted to go when I told them we were don't, but I knew their parents were ready.

And now we get to the title of this post, two don'ts. When you are thirty seven, you really need to adjust how you play any sport with kids. If you are in good physical shape then you shouldn't really play your hardest. You need to dial it back a bit. When you are in less than good physical shape you might still want to ease up. In one instance it's not fair to the kids, and in the other you wind up nearly killing yourself.

I imagine we all know about kicking a soccer ball, but for those that don't there's one basic fact you should know. You do not kick with your toe. I would wager that most sports with any amount of kicking involved don't actually involve the toe in direct contact and for a variety of reasons. One reason is that it hurts your toe, and my toe hurts.

I do know how to kick a ball, but in my defense I was doing the other don't, and so I probably deserved the bit of toe pain.

A slide tackle is a desperation move, and in one of today's rare coaching moments I used my own bit of breaking a rule to explain to them the idea of a slide tackle as desperate and a last resort. What I didn't discuss with them is the idea of not slide tackling when you're the coach and supposed to be coaching and not slide tackling.

I let myself get a little too involved. It was all fun of course, and I didn't actually slide tackle a player. I and the ball were well ahead of him, and my team mate was open. What should have been a quick and neat move turned out really poorly. I hit the ground and didn't slide, landing on my calf and knee. The foot that was supposed to gracefully come around and contact the ball with the top ended up going straight on, toe first. The ball was moving pretty quickly as my momentum brought me into contact.

The wound is slight and won't effect anything, and I accept that it's entirely a product of poor decision making. The take away message, above and beyond the two don'ts, might be knowing when to dial it back. There's never a reason to not do your best, but there are valid reasons sometimes to not play your hardest.

Monday, March 29, 2010

in the closet? or just inside the shadow?

My Google reader has over two hundred unread items in it again. That isn't that many, but it does represent a couple of days of lessened computer time. Between Friday evening and Saturday late night lately I'm fairly busy.

Friday evening is soccer practice with the boys followed by attempts at feeding them healthy food, getting them into bed then obsessing over what I might have missed at their practices, what I can do to make the games go well and hoping none of that keeps me from getting to sleep.

And when I start cutting back computer time or just having less time for it, often my email is the first thing to get overlooked unless I'm expecting something. And I missed a comment recently to my most recent post as it came in just before the weekend mania.

The comment is from a blogger I enjoy who also happens to author one of two blogs hailing from Canada that I enjoy reading, Tossing Pebbles in the Stream and A Small Corner of Nowhere.

The comment was to my most recent post about the idea of deliberately outing closeted politicians who work against the interest of gay people. Sadly, when I saw that I had a comment, I had to go to the blog post to remember what I'd posted. I suppose it's been a while.

It's always interesting to have comparisons from people used to life in Canada but who are also well aware, through experience, of life in the US. I have to assume it's the subtle differences. And that's sorta what the comment made me think.

But then the idea of the closet crept back up.

There's some idea of levels of outness that I've considered before, quite possibly even thought about on occasion. There are so many variables that work into this equation when I really stop to think about it. One basic question to ask is Who Knows? The followup question is Are They Cool? Two distinct examples come to mind, work and soccer.

I'm pretty much completely out at work. There are a few new employees that I haven't told directly, but I can only imagine they'll figure it out soon enough. I work in a part of town that has a lot of cool places and hosts a lot of my friends, people I've met over the years of working and hanging out in the vacinity, some living in the area and some scattered throughout the city. Of the people living closest the demographic is young, hip, probably with more than a little money while the visitors are pretty much everybody in town for various events over the course of a year.

It's a safe place to be out, and it wouldn't matter anyway since enough people know that I have to assume that everyone knows. It's freeing to not give a shit. It's not nearly as gay as I'd like to see it, but even before I was out it was where I loved to be, where my two most regular bars are still. I'm accepted now just as I was before.

In this place, these several city blocks of this town, I feel like I'm just me. I can dream that I could meet someone and poetic nonsense will happen, and then a happy ending that involves growing old together with no wind chimes indoors.

And then there's soccer. Obviously, this is the place where it matters least. This is also one place I'd currently sorta most like it to not come up.

From the direction of our downtown you can follow the four directions to find somewhat different perspectives and opinions on life and politics. While downtown is a more liberal sort of place, driving north takes you into more conservative territory. We're currently in an in between but less lib sort of direction, and our soccer region is mostly the points farther out than us.

I don't want to judge the people who let me coach their children, and I can't know what they think because it doesn't come up. I do my thing, they cheer, maybe we'll win next week, and then the season is over.

I have a whole other complaint here that I feel needs to be somewhat addressed and actually will be in the fall. I'm not sure what happened, but someone noticed something I noticed. One of the ideals I learned from my earliest coaching days with this organization is the idea that complete and total fairness was the ideal. There would be now stacked teams, no all stars beating up the "others."

I've coached some great kids, though not all of them should have been playing soccer. I've seen so many that just didn't really want to be there, but they made the effort, and sometimes I got some really good playing out of them. Some kids just DID NOT need to be there. They hated it, they didn't like or appreciate being pushed to do things they had no interest in, and you never know what to do.

Is there a good way to tell someone to ask their child if they really want to play soccer? This is the first season that Big Brother's team has been full of kids who all seemed interested to be here. Okay, now that I think, I can name a couple that would rather do other, but I also see these kids as being willing to pull together and do something great if I can just . . . They do actually enjoy playing soccer, and I'm refusing now to get sidetracked into the discussion about how kids are different and there are the kids who like playing soccer as well as the kids who hate losing anything. That's a great idea for a blog post, but it's not where we are right now.

I never mean to, but thinking about soccer gets me into a certain groove, and this is a great year for that. I stopped coaching for a short time, part of the whole coming out thing. Soccer just seemed too much at the time. Coming back to it is weird because so many of the faces in the organization haven't changed. And it should be mentioned that our preseason coach's meeting is held in a Methodist church. And that's a crap segue to get us back to my point.

I'm making assumptions like Hank Aaron hitting home runs when it comes to the idea that these people might learn their kid's soccer coach is gay, but I don't think that I'm entirely off base when I assume that it could be, at best, uncomfortable to have to deal with it. And there's the point that it kind of doesn't matter at all in this lone place and time. And while I don't see it ever coming up, I can imagine it ending poorly for all interested parties.

I would prefer people know. If they are accepting then it makes my life easier, and it shouldn't change or effect anything for them, but that's the main variable here. You just can't know who's cool and who's not.

When I'm downtown, if someone learns that I'm gay and has an issue, I have back up. I have places I can go if I need to, and I have friends that will stand up with me. Among the soccer crowd I have a huge unknown. They don't realize it, but there's a gay amongst them. And he's doing his best to coach your kids, to make them better soccer players and better teammates.

And if we get back to some of those stereotypes of gay people, I have worn my sunglasses in front of them, and on me they're kinda gay, which I'm generally okay with, but I'm sure my "secret" was telegraphed somehow to someone. Also, I love those sunglasses. I saw them on someone else and actually went to WalMart to buy them because I loved them so much. That also might be kinda gay.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

where ever

The idea of being forcibly outed isn't new. I imagine that any group of people who find themselves with a general disdain for gay people has probably run across the concept at some point.

Without getting too complicated, considering I barely skimmed the news source, I give you a couple of links.

Roy Ashburn, a Senator from California apparently has a voting record that tends to deny gay people equality. I honestly didn't read that much about the guy, so I'm taking The Advocate's word for it. That isn't really the point. The thing is, the guy's gay. He got himself a nice DUI while taking an anonymous male home from a gay bar. Days later he admitted that he's gay.

According to another article in The Advocate a blogger plans to out any number of politicians if they vote against something or other that also isn't the point. It's the idea of forced outing that is the whole point but sort of juxtaposed against the idea of anti gay politics coming from closeted gay people, which has happened before. Larry Craig would of course be a prime example.

With first hand experience I can tell you that the closet is a horrible place, but I can't for the life of me imagine a way that I could justify animosity toward gay people who were out.

That's a lie. On some level I can see a place where, from in the closet, my own jealousy might cause problems. Really it would depend on the reasons we find ourselves in the closet. We're all in for very personal reasons.

I also have to wonder how a closeted politician gets to a point where they are basically known, on some level in whatever town they spend most of their time, as gay, but they are able to remain closeted to the people who rely on them for political representation.

So, is it right or okay to out someone? That's really the basic question. Is it ever? Is it never? Are their circumstances that effect the decision?

Can we weight the question with factors such as the person's place in a political machine that often works to undermine efforts seen by many people as an attempt to achieve equality for a group of people that the person is also secretly a member of?

How do you weight for the what it does to a person and their family?

I want to argue that it's always for the best when a gay person comes out of the closet. It doesn't fix things really. It doesn't make your life immediately all it could have been. There's still miles uphill to slog, and we all have our own hill anyway. Throw in being secretly gay while casting votes in the senate to deprive gay people of the simple fact of being treated as equal, and you've created a whole new bunch of circumstances for yourself.

In the end, if you go out of your way to tell people not to do what you do in fact do then perhaps it's best that we all get to know that you do in fact do what you strike so forcefully against.