The game of soccer is simple. Two teams try to kick a ball into the other team’s goal. In it’s purest form, all that is needed is a ball, and the ball can actually be made of anything: rags, pig bladder, grapefruit, a human head – anything. And in the past, ANYTHING was really used. Today however, in the era of bubble pack protection and helicopter parents, we equip our kids with “gear”, and the governing bodies of youth sports state that the following are necessary protective gear for all players:
- Shin guards.
Yep. That’s it. Shin guards. Of course, shin guards weren’t required just 30 years ago when I was playing youth soccer. And to prove we were “men”, we’d even push our socks down. The threat of getting kicked in the shins actually made us quicker and more nimble. Back in the day we didn’t fall down because we were “diving” hoping to get a foul. If you went down, it’s because you were legitimately hurt. Of course, it’s all paid off now, as I can kick the corner of the bed in the middle of the night on the way back from the bathroom and bleed to death before sunrise without feeling a thing. I have “washboard” shins… Think about it.
And even though we’ve been wearing shin guards for 30 years now, many professionals still aren’t used to it. Watch any professional match and the first thing the players do when the game is over is remove their shin guards. It’s actually a silent protest. Shin guards come in a variety of forms, from those that cover the entire shin from kneecap to ankle and include thick padding for the ankle as well – to tiny little form fitting plastic cards that are barely noticeable. However, to REAL soccer players, shin guards are a sign of weakness. “Vee spit on shingods. SHVINE-STIGAW!!“
Here’s a good book that touches on some of the same things I do. It’s a quick, easy read that’s make you laugh more than once. It’s also a good idea to read it again after you’re a little more experienced.