To be the absolute best at something, anything, in a city of eight million people takes a certain combination of skill, will, balance and, in most cases, luck. However minor that area of greatness is, once you are the best, that is it. The key piece of the puzzle seems to be that bit of luck. For an artist, it means having your works seen by a prominent critic and earning a prestigious exhibition at one of the better museums in Manhattan. For musicians, it means playing a great show in front of someone who matters, whether it be an agent, a producer, a club promoter or a famous bassist. For everyone else, it simply means working hard enough and being consistent enough to succeed in a given field. Health is a big part of consistency. More on that later. Read More
“You can’t win ’em all,” so the adage goes. While the application of this saying has extended to the subjects of romance, academic pursuit, flying standby at the airport and khaki sales at Kohl’s, it is safe to assume that the most practical sense in which someone can say this to a fellow human being occurs when engaging in sport. You hear it all the time, and no matter how diluted those words can become, they still retain truth, and the truth behind them is difficult to accept when you have spent the majority of an athletic season buffered by a sense of invincibility. Read More
After having finally shown up late to a game, I knew better than to rely solely on my desire to play soccer in order to get myself out of bed on a Sunday morning, take a bus and three different trains and reach a somewhat remote location in time. It was an awakening of sorts, one in which I realized I had paid specifically for the privilege of playing a game I enjoy with a bunch of strangers who chose to name their team after a Prince album and song. Never again, I decided, would I arrive unprepared, whether mentally, physically or otherwise. For the final two regular season games, I would set personal precedents for promptness and diligence on the pitch which I could realize as a standard for my play going into the playoffs. This would be the turning point. Read More
Every player in the history of any sport, from the top-level professionals who become legends to the street amateurs who play the game once and never again, have a best game. It is simply the way anything requiring skill has to go. For those who play once and only once, their best day is also their worst day, and they can live with the fact that this paradox is inherent to the limited sample set they offer. For the rest, with each game comes an opportunity to raise the personal bar just a little higher. These are the days we remember long after the act of playing the game has ceased. We look back on them and are able to say, “Ah, yes, I remember that day well. When you have a game like that, you tend not to forget.”
Unfortunately, this was not one of those “best games,” and unfortunately, we remember games like this one as well, perhaps with even sharper memorial precision. Read More
The weekend vacation thanks to July 4th provided a welcome respite to a young but already challenging season. We now know that this team is at least half-decent despite being complete strangers thrown together in an effort to create something. A win and a draw: that’s not a horrible way to start the summer, and we sat tied at the top of the league table going into the third game. Two weeks to think about the next fixture is an irritating period of time, and I spent a lot of it consuming the book Soccernomics, by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski. Much of it comes from the Moneyball mentality of applying statistical analysis to athletic competition. I searched for some hidden answers, some key to achieving soccer glory, at least at an amateur level. Alas, no such answer was to be found, but I did manage to slowly build excitement for the next game.
It wasn’t quite a wet, windy Tuesday night in Stoke, but it was a hazy, overcast Sunday afternoon in New York that eventually, mercifully brought rain and tremendous heartbreak to Purple Reign’s second match. On the same day as another, slightly less important game of futbol, the commute to Riverside Park was far less stressful (mostly because I left my apartment with more than enough time), though I am still not convinced I have found the most efficient way of crossing from the Bronx to upper east side of Manhattan; this time, I traversed the entire island laterally, itself a full workout and showed up to the field drenched in sweat. Fortunately I had remembered to put on sunscreen prior to departing, not that it ended up mattering at all given the clouds. Walking up to the field, I ran into two teammates, and we discussed how perfect it would be if the skies opened, only slightly, allowing a few precious, cool drops of rain to fall.
When I moved to New York City for college, there was a list of things that I knew I would need to do to take full advantage of my time here in between classes and, you know, working my way toward being a half-decent, functioning human being in the post-undergraduate world. Along the way, various items have been added, put on hold, scrapped altogether or forgotten. One of the tasks I knew I needed to complete once I decided on staying in the city for the summer after my junior year was to join and play in a recreational city soccer league. After extensive research with the help of some people on the world wide web, I decided upon ZogSports as my league partly for its relatively reasonable entrance fee and also for its association with charities in and around the city (ZogSports requires teams to play in the honor of a charity of their choosing). After unsuccessfully trying to get a few of my friends to join with me, I went for it alone. I paid the bill and began the waiting game, hoping the almighty Zog would not stall too long before alerting me of my teammates.