We’ve signed our kindergartener up for soccer this spring. It seemed like a good deal until we realized we had to buy him a jersey, a ball, spiked shoes, and shin guards. I don’t know if we were required to get the shoes, but everything came as a package at the sporting goods store. They saw us coming from miles away.
The shin guards were deemed essential. I suppose this is the way of the world, but it struck me as overkill. I played after-school soccer in elementary school, and we never entertained the idea of protecting our shins. Naked shins were part of the competition. If you couldn’t kick the ball, you compensated by nailing another kid in the shin. Likewise, you had to be aware of your surroundings, inasmuch as they contained other kids’ shoes. After limping home a few times, you learned to pay attention to the game.
I don’t think kids have changed. This smells like adults fearing liability. I’m confident my son will learn to hate wearing shin guards after 30 seconds. They will watch his soccer matches from the trunk of the car. He’ll get kicked in the shin, it will hurt, and maybe he’ll learn to move a little quicker when an expensive soccer shoe is sailing toward him. The thing for the courts to know is that his parents were warned to properly equip him.
I played a lot of baseball when I was young. I already had a glove when I started Little League, so the only thing my mother ever had to buy me was a jock strap. I was her fourth son, but the only one she ever had to buy a cup for. I wonder if she realized her good fortune.
For some reason, we didn’t need a cup to play our regular season. Around July, the coaches chose an All Star team from our town to play against neighboring towns. For this we needed to wear cups, because outsiders would certainly be less considerate of our collective loins than friends and neighbors were.
My mom was inexperienced at selecting such equipment. Consequently, she presented me, at age 10, with an adult cup. I didn’t know the difference; all I knew was that it was difficult to walk, let alone run, wearing that monster. This was not the problem it might have been as I was not much of an All Star. There was little call for me to do much running in the dugout. Through the games, I, and my man-sized bulge, kept company at the end of the bench. Thank goodness, I never had to waddle out into the light of day and play ball in that condition.
By the next season, we figured out our mistake. I got the appropriate equipment and was able to ride the bench in relative comfort. So I guess the second cup was worth the money. I hope we get that much value out of my son’s shin guards.