Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We flat out top doggin’ it up in here, Torn Slatterns and Nugget Ranchers

What a relief, so to speak
The International Space Station said they had to repair their urine-to-drinking water system. Don’t worry, they’re sending up Joe the Plumber.

Gotta be that guy
After five days of repairing and testing the urine-to-drinking water system on the Space Station finally works. What do you want to bet the guy who had to do the test taste samples was the guy who just lost the bag of tools in space?

Sort of like that
To beg congress for a $25 billion bail out, our top three auto presidents flew to Washington on their private jets. That’s like calling from Paris Hilton’s bedroom to beg your wife for sex.

Since you asked:
Here is a story I wanted to get off my chest for a while. (Uh oh)

My daughter and her good friend Hanna play soccer for a competitive team for her age group, girls under 10, in California. Youth soccer in California is insanely competitive and their team is one of the best teams in their age group. This is not bragging, it is true. It has been a wild ride and luckily we have a great group of kids and parents and have been spared the insanity of what many soccer parents go through with parents going crazy on refs or coaches or the girls.

So Hannah, AC and all of her adorable teammates love the HBO movie “Dare to Dream” about the great Mia Hamm/Julie Foudy gold medal and World Cup winning team of the 90’s and the temporary soccer craze they generated, specifically in winning the dramatic ’99 World Cup in Los Angeles. No guessing how many times AC and Dynamo – Ann Caroline and Hannah’s soccer nicknames –have seen it. They can recite it. So can their teammates. It is their movie soccer bible. 

And our girls have been lucky enough to have been coached many times by one of the key players on those teams, Shannon MacMillan. San Diego’s Shannon Mac scored the goal that got them into the gold medal game in Atlanta. Shannon could not be any nicer or a better and more fun coach. (AC and Dynamo also attended one of Julie Foudy’s camps but Foudy was not particularly friendly nor involved in coaching so we had no desire to return the next year)

One beautiful Saturday morning early this summer, we traveled up to UC Irvine for a big soccer tournament. (Which our girls ended up winning , by the way) As we cross the street, Hannah’s father, Allen, unlike me, a truly nice man, and I are walking ahead of the girls with their moms, our lovely slow-walking wives, Virginia and Meecy. Who do we happen to  ask directions to the field from than none other than Joy Fawcett, one of the key “Dare to Dream” players - along with the aforementioned Hamm and Foudy and the shirt-removing Brandi Chastain and, my favorite of these, Christine Lilly.

Joy Fawcett was the role model for the other women as the first to have kids and, in the movie, Fawcett seemed like a funny sweetheart who lived to promote soccer to young girls. We were excited to think we had met the great personality we knew from the movie, so we said hello to Joy Fawcett and expressed how glad we were to see her. Right away I noticed Joy Fawcett didn’t want to talk to us nor make eye contact. Uh oh.

As it was quickly obvious from her body language Joy Fawcett didn’t want to be friendly, we boldly asked Joy Fawcett if she could simply say hello to our daughters -we said no autographs, no pictures - who were walking thirty yards behind us as she was a hero to them and it would make their summer.

Joy Fawcett said no and walked away.

Believe me, I know anyone can have a bad day, but this went beyond that. Nobody would care if Fawcett wasn't nice to two goofy soccer dads she didn't know, but our kids?

On “Dare to Dream” all the players, especially Joy Fawcett, proclaim over and over again how they want to promote soccer for young girls and yet this flaming hypocrite, Joy Fawcett, wouldn’t take ten seconds to stop to say hello to two kind, sweet ten-year-old soccer-loving girls who, until then, worshipped her.

As a father you can imagine how steamed I was at this unnecessary rude slight. So it got me to thinking, why was I so wrong about Joy Fawcett? We watched “Dare to Dream” again, this time with my jaundiced eyes, and I was amazed at what I saw. If you watch closely, there is a lot of nasty egotistical underlying cattiness especially directed by Julie Foudy at Mia Hamm. (When Foudy says sarcastically of Hamm's fame "Your back must be sore from carrying us" you can sense the toxic venom)

But what really stuck out was that team’s audacity to hijack the US Olympic team in Atlanta in 1996. Their team was honored to be asked to represent their country for the 1996 Olympics and once they were there, what did they do? They boycotted for more money. They wanted what the men were getting even though, at the time, the men’s team generated far more income than they did. That would change, but that’s the way it was in ’96.

That isn’t just extortion, that’s extorting against your country’s Olympic team. Playing on an Olympic team is not a right, it is a privilege. And they knew and accepted the existing financial deal when they were picked. What the women’s soccer team did to the Olympic team in 1996, under the advice of tennis great Billy Jean King and the leadership of Julie Foudy, was blackmail. Pure and simple.

When we got back to San Diego and told this story to a woman we know who was a star player at San Diego State in the late 90’s, she told the story about how that famous ’99 team had to use the practice facility they were using in San Francisco, and even scrimmaged against them. She said all the players made a point to thank the college girls for their help. All but Mia Hamm who our friend said went out of her way to ignore and be rude to her and her teammates. This woman now clearly hates Mia Hamm.

From a distance the ‘91’rs - as they were called in “Dare to Dream” - couldn’t have seemed nicer, cuter and more supportive to young girl soccer players. In reality, once the camera was off, it was a different story.

We want to glorify our great athletes with wonderful attributes like honesty, humor and kindness, when, in reality, many times those qualities are just not there. When they are there, like with Shannon MacMillan, it is unbelievably great and inspiring, but often those traits are simply not there.

While most have been great, especially Rafer Johnson, as I have sadly learned from great athletes I have met, namely Steve Garvey, Ahmad Rashad, Bruce Jenner and Michael Irvin among others, they are capable of being incredibly charming when the camera’s red light is on. But when the camera is off, they instantly turn into complete and total a-holes. This is how it was with Joy Fawcett. And Joy Fawcett isn’t even close to being a big time famous athlete, she isn't even known outside of soccer.

Say what  you want about athletes who are jerks to the press, at least the big time sports jerks like Barry Bonds, Ryan Leaf and John McEnroe, aren’t hypocrites. 

And even Barry Bonds is nice to kids.