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The Biggest Prize In Sports..... Is Joy

Chaska Soccer Win
Chaska Soccer Win

This has nothing to do with Husker football, nor Nebraska sports, so if you’d like to stop reading right now, I don’t blame you. However, this has a lot to do with why you love sports, or at least why you should.

This past one was a great weekend. A really great weekend, despite incredibly crappy weather.  All three of my kids play soccer, two in competitive and one still in recreational league. The oldest had a tournament, and as dutiful parents, Mrs Corn Nation and I (along with the grandparents who’d come up from Nebraska) braved the wind, rain, and cold to watch the boys in action. Friday night’s game was late, and the boys won it relatively easy, 3-1. The Saturday game was a battle, and ended in a 0-0 tie.

Sunday morning’s 8:00 am game would determine which team moved on to the championship game - win you’re in, lose you’re done. The game went well enough, with our team taking a 2-1 lead late into the game. The head referee had made it clear that he would tolerate no backtalk or arguing about his calls, handing out yellow cards to a boy on each team and giving each coach a warning. With about nine minutes left in the game, the opposing coach got disgusted with what he felt was excessive pushing, complained, and was thrown out of the game. Since the other team had no one licensed as a second coach, the game was over, forfeited. We stood in shock at the call, but that meant we were in the final.

The rain stopped for the Sunday games, so for the final I brought my camera. I’ve taken sports photos of the kids and their teams for the past couple years. This accomplishes more than providing memorable moments - it’s main purpose is to serve as a tranquilizer. I yell a lot at the games, and I have a voice than can be heard across counties. Whenever I feel that I’m getting carried away, I raise the camera to my eye and start firing away. It works very well, probably well enough that it’s saved some other parents lives over the past couple years (more likely mine, but this is MY story, right?).

The main subject of the photo is our backup goalkeeper. He hasn’t played goalie in quite a while, not yet this year, and I can’t remember him playing it last year either. Unfortunately our starting goalie twisted his ankle badly in the game that got us into the finals and was replaced by his backup. Right before the championship game the starter decided he couldn’t go. This left us down three players as two members of the offense were out, one due to injury, one due to asthma.

In stepped the backup keeper for the tournament final and championship. The game went well in the early going, with our team taking a 1-0 lead. The general feeling was that if we scored again, we would win, but a little while later they scored on a free kick. The kick was high, perfect, and beautiful and as it came down in front of the goal one of their boys headed it in just as our keeper leapt to grab it. Tie game, 1-1.

By all rights, our team should have lost in regulation. They had two shots that missed by a hair, and a couple in which the ball bounced around in front of our goal for an eternity before being cleared by a defender. Perhaps that was luck, or perhaps it was the result of a frenzied defense that knew they had to protect their backup keeper. They appeared to score a goal in the final minute or so but it was waived off due to an offsides call. The game ended in a 1-1 tie, or rather, regulation ended in a 1-1 tie.

After regulation, they moved to two five-minute overtime periods. Neither team could get much going, so they moved to shootouts. A shootout is exactly what it sounds like - one at a time, five boys from each team lined up to take a shot at the net, guarded by the other team’s goalie, in our case, the backup goalie.  After the first five had shot, the game was still tied. It then moved to sudden death with each team getting a shot until a goalie made a save or the shooter missed. Our backup got a save and our shooters didn’t miss, but you probably guessed something like that from the photo.

The result was an improbable tournament win. While it wasn't a Super Bowl, a national title or anything like that but that doesn't matter as the feeling was the same for those that participated - a whole gob of joy and a feeling that life doesn't get any better than this.

They're right about that. Life doesn't get any better than this. Like i said, it was a great weekend.