By: Mary Fran Bontempo

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worldcupI know I’m supposed to care.

I just really, really don’t.

It’s World Cup time again, the sporting event which takes place every four years, causing the world to lose its collective mind as millions of fans queue up behind their respective countries, wild-eyed and raving, for a month’s worth of, heaven help me, soccer.

See, soccer and I have a somewhat complicated history. My earliest memories of the game are of freezing my butt off watching my younger brothers play at the Mayfair schoolyard back in the early ’70’s. Not surprisingly, I was bored senseless, being neither an athlete nor old enough to catch the eye of any of the older boys hanging around the field. An afternoon soccer game was punishment, pure and simple, and the seeds of discontent were amply sown.

Then, I met Dave, my now-husband of 33 years (this past June 20th–can you imagine?). It was pretty much love at first sight, and when I found out he was a soccer coach, I thought, well, maybe I can learn to like the game.

I couldn’t.

During our dating years, I pretended to give a damn about what “off-sides” meant, and I tried mightily to see the difference between a forward and a mid-fielder. Yet, despite my efforts, the whole thing looked like an exercise in stupidity, with kids running randomly around a field flinging themselves at a ball, trying to kick it into a net. (Of course, all sports represent some version of that to me, but I digress….)

I valiantly traveled to “away” games to be near my honey, dutifully attended soccer banquets, and perfected the art of sleeping with my eyes open when subjected to soccer talk, which was mind-numbingly dull to me. Oh, for a conversation about a book!

Marriage and kids followed, and though life changed, soccer didn’t. Oh, except for the fact that what was once a three-month a year sport suddenly became twelve months of misery. Soccer season, soccer camps, summer leagues, and non-stop coaching, now involving not only Dave’s high school team, but our kids’ teams, which he also coached.

I was the mom on the sidelines constantly checking my watch, when I wasn’t sneaking back to the car to read a book or walking to the snack stand for a diversion. My aversion to standing outside for two hours either freezing or sweating to death watching a game was so great that I’d even consent to walking to and using a public toilet. I detest public toilets. But I detest soccer more.

I wish I could say that things have changed, but Dave is still coaching. And honestly, much as I hate the sport, I’m glad–for him, that is.

Soccer gives Dave an outlet that he loves. He claims there’s a strategy to it that he understands and find fascinating. Since he could be spending his off-hours on far more suspect pursuits, I’ll never ask him to give it up. (Plus, I’m not sure I’d come out on the winning side of that ultimatum.)

So during this World Cup month, when yet more of life will revolve around that stupid, spotted ball, I’ll put up with it and try and find something to occupy my time.

Should that something involve a credit card and a shopping mall, well, Dave’s just going to have to put up with that.

What’s your take on the World Cup? Click “comments” below and share!