You Won’t Find Me at the Showcase Field

by | June 21, 2016, 12:46pm 4

You won’t find me at the showcase field.

Except in some games, when I don
the headset and speak
platitudes and stories about the figures on the pitch
the sons and daughters of glory
those who have been hyped on twitter and facebook
and stopped before the game and asked for a photo
or an autograph by a fan from a far-off place

But during the breaks, when my mouth becomes tired
My eyes wrinkled and heavy
I hand the headset to my co-commentators
and I step away

Far across the fields
Far from the stadium with the screaming fans
Far from the hecklers and the sloshing beers
Far from the staff in polo shirts readying medals for display
Far from the volunteers who give their time for a glimpse at greatness

I pass through the complex amidst the strewn
water bottles and ankle braces and shade tents and warped discs
and voodoo floss and sunscreen and foam rollers
I pass the men and women in the colors of their flags
The endzone plays, the water swigs, the sideline talk
I pass the injured player calling lines
the captain yelling bring it in
the spirit director standing idly by

I arrive at the umpteenth field.

Past the thicket
Through the trees
Beyond the hedge

The forlorn ground where two teams
battle for last place.

I stop now and observe these men and women
chosen to represent their country

I see the grizzled expat
Beard greying, visor tattered
Who has done so much to spread the game

I see the physical beast
a basketball convert just one year ago
already open deep

I see the teenager
observing from the sideline with hand-me-down cleats
waiting for her chance to step up and lead

The pressure saturates the air
for it is double game point
in this battle for last place.

Gone are the expensive cameras
and adoring parents
and sideline supporters
and game advisors
and gawking onlookers

There is only me
and approximately thirty seven
men and women
fighting for their countries

Sweat drips through headbands and trucker hats
as the sun beats down on these players
who gave it all up to battle for their flag
who sold discs and water bottles and ran crowdfunding campaigns
who moved in with their parents to save for plane tickets
who followed the ultimate star on twitter for a glimpse of her lifting regimen
who ran shuttles on dirt fields next to the quarry
who studied the rise up videos to learn from the best

The din of the showcase field is a distant murmur
As the players exchange shouts of encouragement
Each in their own languages
One harsh and glottal
The other tonal and paused

The tension mounts
The cheers crescendo
The pull goes up

And I soak it all in.

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  • I get it; amazing plays, astonishing athleticism, gorgeous shirts and outstanding records, it all attires people and nourishes the crowds. Is the feeling of belonging, the joy of running, throwing and catching and the spark of the support of your teammates what makes you love this game.

  • Toninho

    The game is in need of more poetry

  • Alexander Fomin

    I really like it, Liam.

  • Trent Simmons

    Thank you Liam for reminding us about all the people who simply play for the love of the game. In so many cases the biggest victory is simply getting selected for the team, whether it is Team India or Team USA.