Pet Please #4: When You're Not in the Wall

soccer-wall1I’ve played soccer ever since I came tumbling out of the womb. Played it my whole life. Love the game. There’s nothing better than taking a pass off the chest, dribbling past several players, performing triple rainbows culminating in a bicycle kick into the old onion bag. Yep. That never happened. But it could have.

However, there is one huge downside to playing organized soccer: Sometimes you get hit by the ball. Hard. I once took a ball in the face so hard that it knocked me to the turf. I braced for the fall with my wrist, which promptly broke.

Thus the very worst moment in soccer is when you know you’re going to get hit by the ball. When there is no doubt. Why do you know that? Because you’re coach told you to. That’s the job of the human wall. When there’s a penalty kick within range of the goal (but outside the 18-yard box), certain players are instructed by their coach to stand in a line so the ball hits off of them instead of continuing toward the goal.

It’s a dreadful thing, to stand in the wall. You cover your crotch, yes, but it doesn’t help that much. The trepidation is terrible. You begin to doubt why you’re even playing this silly game. Would it be so wrong for you to quit right then, to walk off the field and claim your Sunny D? Would anyone hold that against you?

And then you look over, 10 yards to your right, and there stands one of your fellow players. He’s well clear of the wall–his assignment is to guard one of the roving attacking players. At that moment, a millisecond before the ball is kicked, that man is the happiest man on earth. He knows how close he came to standing in the wall. And yet he is free. Free to roam the field without worry or concern. Free to live. Free to love.

If you want to know true happiness, join a soccer league, stand in a few walls, and then don’t stand in a wall one time. You’ll then know true happiness.