Soccer fields everywhere (November 29, 2016) — Every soccer game is a three-ring circus, and Current of Colorado pays attention to all three rings (both teams and the ref crew). Competition is fundamental for these three groups. Unfortunately, many folks beyond the sidelines mar the beautiful game. They simply don’t get it. They essentially tug shirts and throw elbows because they confuse the grace of winning with a crude fear of losing. Sadly, this includes media and supporters groups along with overzealous parents and garden-variety drunks.
In 2015, Current of Colorado (Patrick Shea) drove 28,252 miles to capture footage, interviews, and reports from the U.S. soccer landscape. Comparing stadiums, regions, tournaments, and leagues helped put Colorado in perspective. The lesson of 2015: Harmonious humility is the prime ingredient for team success.
In 2016, I stayed home except for two big trips to track local teams chasing national prizes*. The lesson of 2016: Competition is a craft built on respect.
Competition is most obvious when teams wear different colored shirts and kick each other on the weekend. Anyone can turn on a TV and see it. But what about the competition coaches describe between players fighting to make the starting 11? You don’t need to read Born to Run to learn how Tarahumara Indians blend compassion within competition. Watch one Colorado Rapids training session and you’ll see 30 players working together with respect. You won’t see hazing and overtly ugly rookie treatment. You’ll see healthy, unified competition (and quality).
Mix respectful competition with humility, and you have a winning formula for the group (teams AND referees).
I always give my Current of Colorado card to officials before I film a game. I ask them to share my e-mail address with the entire crew and send me an e-mail later so I can reply with links to the game FOR FREE. Some referees respond, indicating they want to improve. But one woman told me she didn’t need it and didn’t have time. Ironically, parents from both teams surrounded me after the game expressing a need to take the time to watch my footage of her performance again.
I film games so players, coaches, and officials can improve while I distribute the stories to anyone with an interest in soccer and an Internet connection. Not everyone sees it that way. When Mainz 05 visited Colorado this summer, they gave me the opportunity to film their team for Bundesliga TV, and they paid me well. When Altitude TV ran a “Rapids Report” on Harpo’s FC, they used several of my clips, but they did not ask me for permission, pay me for the footage, or respond when I contacted them.
At the close of 2016, Current of Colorado learned to maintain the player’s perspective, which is constant improvement with humility combined with professional respect. If it works for a Bundesliga team like Mainz 05, then it will work for me.
* Current of Colorado covered high school, amateur, semi-pro, USL, and MLS teams this year. Working as a journalist and video coach creates a membrane between me and the teams. Although I attend enough training sessions and games to become intimate, by design I’m on the outside. Still, it’s deflating to follow four long runs that fall short.
Switchbacks FC had a healthy surge to close the season. But then they had an abrupt exit from the playoffs.
Harpo’s FC advanced to Round Two of the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and played well in all competitions. But they lost to Azteca FC in a 2017 pre-qualifier for the tournament.
I filmed 15 games for the Golden Demons, but they didn’t qualify for 4A high school playoffs.
I always look for links between teams and leagues, and sometimes I get lucky. Rony Argueta scored the rocket in the Switchbacks FC video above, and you will also see him at the LA Wolves training session I reported from the United Premier Soccer League in southern California.
Everyone loses eventually. The feeling is deflating. However, unless the loss also marks the final game for a player or coach, the next games become better. Here’s where loose barstool chatter about “Promotion-Relegation in the United States” hits Current of Colorado. For decades, I’ve had the same response to the questions posed by Pro-Rel: “Meanwhile….”
Uninterrupted since the first kick on the continent, soccer players in the U.S. are like soccer players everywhere. Boys and girls turn into men and women who are going to play no matter what. Brian Schmetzer won national titles playing with his friends as a kid in Seattle. He played for the Sounders from 1980–1983, and now he’s coaching them in their first MLS Cup on December 10. Who’s the best team in the country? What region breeds the best players? Where will the future U.S. stars play?
The answers fall in the same category: “Meanwhile….” Competition continues for the players, coaches, and supporters who see the big picture and show respect for themselves, their competitors, and competition itself.