Sports are usually the thing a kid has to bond with their father figure – if we’re going with a heteronormative stereotype. There are other things kids and parents bond over, like pets, Lego, and a shared favorite food.
My dad wasn’t involved for much of my formative years. Our relationship has only moved forward a step since I was legal to drink.
I don’t remember when I first took an interest in sports – both watching and playing. I started to play tennis with my mom at 12, and did so until my sophomore year of high school. During my first year of pep band, I didn’t play much because our section was large, so I had plenty of time to memorize player numbers. If I had to sit at the games for four hours every Friday, I might as well learn about the game.
At some point my casual attention to football turned into being a regular fan. I’m not sure when that happened. But a Seahawks jersey worked its way into my seasonal wardrobe.
My mom started dating her S.O. (who I’ll refer to as EH) when I was ten. They’ve been on-again off-again engaged since then. I had to figure out what we have in common, and in the beginning we didn’t have anything.
He’s Romanian, and to people who don’t know him, has a tough personality to get along with. When I was younger, he’d come over all the time to watch soccer at our house because we had cable and he didn’t – back before cable was mandatory. For years he joked that if I was his daughter, I would have played soccer as soon as I could crawl.
Maybe if I played soccer at a young age, I wouldn’t trip over my own feet nearly as much.
The Seattle Sounders became an MLS team, and started to do exceedingly well. My mom and EH started to attend games when they could score free tickets from friends. It was normal for the two of them to either attend games, or watch them at his apartment when he finally got cable.
In 2011, the FIFA Women’s World Cup was in Germany. Japan had suffered a horrendous earthquake and tsunami, and as participants in the sport, thanked the world for the outpouring support. At some point I started to pay attention to the games. My mom was watching them because she and EH would talk for hours about the tournament.
For the final match, Japan was facing the United States. My mom and I eagerly watched every minute. I was elated that Japan won when the match came down to penalty kicks.
My love for soccer grew since that moment. I’ve followed teams more closely (or at least what my schedule will allow), and have live-tweeted multiple games. The live-tweeting really took off during the men’s in 2014 when I spent long hours at work with few projects to do. And that hasn’t changed this year for the women’s matches in Canada.
Sometimes I wish I had kept up with soccer – as both a player and an observer – earlier in life. Maybe I would have ended up at a different place. Or had different friends.
Mulling over past choices is probably my favorite way to spend a day.
Who knows where we all could have ended up?