11:46 AM

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Soccer, Space-Time distortion, and the Justin Effect

Mister Nizz

I just got back from little G's first game of the season. He actually played the best game of his budding career today-- he's not going to give Becks any nightmares, but he played like he was part of a team today and I'm proud of him and told him so. The ball moved around a lot, the boys passed to each other and started getting an idea of where the gaps are and how to exploit them, and even, in a limited way, to set up the movement of the ball so that they could execute more complex maneuvers like passing the ball forward to let someone else score. I've coached for three years now and it's gratifying to see how they develop into real players instead of an undisciplined mob of anarchists.

Unfortunately, all this availed us to nothing. We lost 1-4.

Why? I call it the Justin Effect.

You've seen this guy if you have kids in sports, especially soccer. His name is usually Justin, or Tyler, or Brandon, or Roberto (if the family is of Spanish heritage). He does little leg lifts and performs excellently in pre-game passing drill. He's a fierce little savage on the field, running ahead of his team-mates, jumping in to any situation to try to make a score (for himself, rather than the team). His parents encourage this, running back and forth up the sidelines, shouting encouragement and earning glares from the coaches while the rest of the parents guiltily cheer while hiding the book they brought along (in my case THE MARTIAN WAR by Gabriel Mesta). (why are you looking at me like that? My knee was arthritic today, you bastards)

I got to thinking that the only way to overcome the Justin Effect was if Justin wasn't there. Level the playing field, so to speak. I'm not advocating violence, you know how peaceful I am, right? But if a space-time rift were to open to another universe where giant condors swooped down on soccer players and carried them away (for the duration of the game at least), I don't know as I'd object too strenuosly..

No, Justin, Tyler, Brandon or Roberto, Nooooooo!"

Don't get me wrong. I love the little tykes. I'm not a proponent of cross-dimensional rift creatures kidnapping our children. It just would be cool to win occassionally.