The Fire Within

Updated: December 4, 2011

By Kelly Crigger

My kid’s soccer team sucks. But that’s not the focus of this story. The focus is the anger that builds up inside me when they’re getting creamed beyond the point of recovery and how I deal with it.

My first reaction is to punch the opposing coach in the face, but I know that’s generally frowned upon and would eternally embarrass my son, so I refrain.

My second reaction is to climb into the rafters and shoot the ball with a hunting rifle and every other replacement ball that the refs bring in to stop the game, but I don’t have a scope powerful enough for that just yet.

My third reaction (and the one I eventually execute) is to shut up and take it. But the game seems to last a fucking eternity and as mature and rational as I am, every second is a moment in hell as my child falls deeper and deeper into self-loathing that I will have to build back up with standard parental phrases like “you did your best” and “it’s just a game.”

But it’s not and we all know it.

Sports are the very essence of who we are as Americans. We’re competitive as hell and a loss is always bitter whether it’s the NFL, an Under-9 Youth Soccer League, or the Retired Fucks Bocce Club of Farmville. Competition is one of the biggest building blocks of the red-blooded American and without it, our military would still be a third rate Boy Scout troop like we were in 1916 as World War I devastated Europe and we were too weak (and too indifferent) to get involved.

The rage I feel makes me understand how legendary competitors like Michael Jordan, Randy Couture, and Rocky keep retiring from their sport only to don their uniforms one more time to mount a failed comeback. They’re wired to compete long after their bodies have lost a step and their sports have passed them by. I’m 43 years old, but completely convinced I can grapple with Tim Kennedy on any given day and not only hold my own, but submit him and beat him at his own game.

The reality? No, I can’t.

Randy could come out of retirement a few times, but the rest of us are fooling ourselves.

As disturbing as it might be to get upset over a kids game, it’s also comforting to realize that the competitive spirit never goes away…that a part of you still harbors the visceral, animalistic urge to win no matter what. The fire inside me to get down there and show those kids how to beat the living crap out of their competition is a gift that reminds me I’m still passionate about something – not losing. If we were comfortable with being second rate, we’d have no standards and by now would be goose stepping, singing Das Kapital, and eating Borscht. I’m not going to say being competitive is an American thing, but never settling for second best has been a core element of the American Spirit since Bunker Hill.

In the words of another smart, dead guy – “If you have nothing for which you’re willing to fight and care for nothing more than your own personal safety, then you’ll never be free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than yourself.”




  1. Sam M

    December 4, 2011 at 11:26 am

    When I’m playing, its never “just a game” if you’re playing, then you should be in it to win it!

  2. Gunship Load

    December 6, 2011 at 4:01 pm


    Normally I love what you write. It makes me laugh, usually because I agree with you, or have been where you are at in your writings, but today’s post, I just can’t.

    “Sports are the very essence of who we are as Americans.” I disagree, and here is why.

    Professional sports are all a bunch of crap! Whiney, crying little bitches that get paid way too much to play A GAME. That’s what it is, A GAME! That’s all it ever has been, and all it ever will be. The two biggest professional sports in America this year had lock-outs, because the spoiled babies were not getting paid enough to play A GAME. It’s embarasing. And I blame the fans. The fans that pay way too much to see people play A GAME. The fans that encourage this crap attitude from those that play A GAME.

    Caeser had professional “sports” too, it was in the Colosseum. He used those professional “athletes” to keep peoples minds off of how bad the Roman Empire (government) was screwing their people.

    It’s the exact same thing today. 90% of Americans can not tell you who their state level congressman is. 75% can not tell you who their federal level congressman is. But I’d bet you dollars to doughnuts that they can tell you who the quarterback is for they favorite NFL team is.

    It’s pathetic. And yet, it’s encouraged.

    There is nothing wrong with being compteitive, IF you are actually the one competing… Watching it on TV and then saying Oh man, we had a great game the next day, that makes you a Douche.

    • Kelly

      December 6, 2011 at 4:37 pm

      I don’t disagree with you at all. I have always ranted about how spoiled our professional athletes are and how disgusted I get when they complain about the amount they get paid to play A GAME. The point of the sentence was to say that we all grow up with sports in America. We have a plethora of sports to choose from and they become a microcosm of who we are because we learn so many life lessons on the fields, courts, and arenas. We learn how to give a hit, take a hit, be a good sport, and most importantly, learn how badly losing sucks. Sports help us gain confidence and lose it at the same time. Even the pros who we despise learned these things at one point, but unfortunately the lucrative business of professional sports too often changes them. That sentence was focused on the untainted youth of America who still want to play just to play.

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