The opposing statistics, at which I’m just guessing because they sure as hell wouldn’t have brought these up, probably show an inordinate percentage of people in their twenties who no longer go to church because they’ve decided, apropos of nothing, that the blanket is staging something for the German people and that the Big Reveal really isn’t that big an idea.I wrote that less than seven hours ago. I do not know what it means. At all. Also, my use of the term "slut" in the part about how nobody notices that they're not getting laid at church did kind of derail the tone of the post. I was going for intentionally inflammatory. That just kind of took everything over to what I call "asshole for the sake of being an asshole." Mea culpa. There are, in fact, several problems with the sex paragraphs. In general when I write about people not getting the fact that other people are having sex I'm mocking myself and the fact that I totally missed the probability that all that stuff was happening in high school (and still miss it now, probably, but that's a story for another day) when it was probably completely obvious to everyone else. However, I directed that mockery in the complete wrong direction. Again, mea culpa.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
The closest professional sports arena to my house is only a few miles away. It’s an easy drive, even if there’s traffic. The stadium itself is state of the art, world class, brand new, and all those other buzzwords marketing people use to describe sports arenas that are supposed to be destinations in and of themselves. The most important thing about the stadium to me, though, is this: I’ll probably never in my life go there to watch a game. Why? Because it’s Toyota Park, home of the Chicago Fire Major League Soccer team. And I don’t think I could care less about soccer if I tried. In this I am like pretty much every other American. Soccer apologists like to tell us that things are going to change. Apparently every single American kid plays club soccer and those soccer playing kindergarteners are inevitably going to grow up to be rabid soccer fans and help the sport everyone else in the world calls football overtake the sport Americans call football in popularity. Every time the American national teams manage to get ever so close to toppling some international powerhouse in competition, then ends up losing the game but winning the moral victories of “not sucking,” and “getting everyone’s attention,” and “serving notice to the world that America has arrived,” we’re told to expect soccer to take over next time. In truth, those kids who played club soccer usually, like me, grow up to not give a shit about soccer. Sure, I used to jokingly tell everyone that the reason I don’t like the sport is because of the way I was ill-treated by a certain attractive member of my high school’s girls’ varsity team,* but that’s not true. I didn’t give a shit about the sport long before that. And, like most Americans, my main memories of soccer involve Brandy Chastain running around without a shirt on and Mia Hamm marrying Nomar Garciaparra. But the only reason I remember Brandy Chastain is because people keep reminding me that I’m supposed to remember it. And Mia Hamm married Nomar back when he was still a shortstop. For the BoSox. Since then I’ve been blissfully unaware of soccer except during the occasional assaults on my sensibilities right before the American team loses to Brazil or the Czech Republic or Trinidad & Tobago in the semi-finals of some alphabet soup world competition that probably isn’t the World Cup. Knowing this, soccer apologists then trot out the superstars. David Beckham got signed to the LA Galaxy in what probably seemed to someone like a can’t-miss publicity stunt. The biggest star of the sport in one of America’s biggest sports markets. Hell, he’s even married to a Spice Girl. Who wouldn’t want to be there for that? After the first game, which I’m pretty sure was sold out, The answer was, “Everyone.” Beckham went off to play for Real Madrid or A.C. Milan or Manchester United or some other such team that I don’t care about. These days the guy named Beckham who’s most likely to make it to SportsCenter is budding White Sox star Gordon Beckham. Too bad. So sad. But not really. Honestly, all the predictions of soccer’s eventual dominance are starting to seem more than a little pathetic and desperate. There’s really only one group in America that seems even more pathetic and desperate in they’re claims they’re on the verge of taking the nation for their ideology. Evangelical Christians. No. Seriously. I can’t tell you how many times I heard that we were on the verge of “revival” and that “god is moving” and that such and such event was proof. Yet Christianity isn’t any more popular than it was ten or twenty years ago. And, in fact, it’s less popular. There isn’t even an iconic moment like Brandy Chastain running around in a sports bra. Now that I think about it, evangelical Christianity could totally use a moment like that. I know that if some of the girls I went to church with had run around without shirts I might have decided to stick around a bit longer… Either way, in Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs Chuck Klosterman tried to destroy the myth of soccer transcendent. He says this: “The truth is that most children don’t love soccer; they simply hate the alternatives more. For 60 percent of the adolescents in any fourth grade classroom, sports are a humiliation waiting to happen. These are the kids who play baseball and strike out four times a game. These are the kids who are afraid to get fouled in basketball, because it only means they are now required to shoot two free throws.” His basic theory, with which I tend to agree, is that for kids with no apparent athletic the entire sport of soccer allows a respite, since they can basically run around for an hour or two, look like they’re participating, and never actually have to do anything. So the kids with actual coordination and ability to score a basket or hit a tiny ball with a round stick go on to do that while the kids with no coordination or noticeable skills just wait until they don’t have to do any of that sports shit any more. He even picks a specific time frame. “However, the demand for such an oasis disappears once an outcast escapes from the imposed slavery of youth athletics; by the time they reach ninth grade, it’s perfectly acceptable to just quit the team and shop at Hot Topic. Most youth soccer players end up joining the debate team before they turn fifteen.” Again, I’m prone to agree with Klosterman on this one. Except I’ll add my own corollary, since I’m pretty sure he doesn’t understand, or wasn’t willing to articulate, one other little factoid. The same age when kids are quitting club soccer wholesale is also approximately the same age kids are starting to get heavily involved in church activities. I don’t think this is a completely random correlation, either. The thing about church is that you don’t have to be able to kick a ball really hard to make it there, either. You simply have to be really good at appearing religious. This isn’t all that hard to do. Just figure out a few of the buzzwords, make sure you bow your head at the appropriate time, and in no time at all someone will be saying, “Wow, you are going to grow up to be quite the man/woman of god.” Moreover, church gives even the dorkiest of human beings the chance to interact on a more-or-less equal level with the cool and attractive kids. See, the entire social hierarchy is inverted at a church youth group. In general, at least in my experience, the kids that are massively popular in the high school didn’t bother to go to church unless their parents made them. They were already gods or goddesses in the limited worlds of their high schools and probably weren’t smart enough to realize that after eighteen nobody would give a shit about how popular they were in high school. This isn’t an attack against the popular kids in high school. It’s simply a statement of fact. High schoolers in general are far too short-sighted to realize that it will all end eventually. And there’s nothing more pathetic than a high schooler who realizes at 21 or 22 that they’ll never recapture the glory days but then tries to do so, anyway. Either way, back to the topic at hand… The outcasts head to church at about the same time they quit soccer. This is neither a mark against soccer nor a mark for church. It’s simply an observation that the kids who aren’t good enough to make the varsity basketball team still look for a place to shine and the church is always an option. See, they have to be nice to you at church. I think it’s in the universal church bylaws. So those outcasts start to feel a lot less outcast-y. The attractive members of the opposite gender even talk to them. And even if the attractive girls in youth group still won’t let the outcasts get a hand up their shirts, that’s nothing to worry about. The assumption that nobody is going to get any is built in to the Christian schema, after all. So the pathetic outcast who isn’t getting to second base can console himself with the fact that nobody else is getting to second base, either. The fact of the matter is that some those girls who are trying to be all “pure” and “virginal” and “saving themselves for marriage” are probably bending over and lifting their skirts for the captain of the football time just like any of the other girls. But that’s because high school kids are horny, but also picky. Only the attractive, popular kids get laid if an attractive, popular kid is involved in the process. The sad sack outcasts who think that being able to pray really, really well makes them acceptable and even, quite possibly, cool, just don’t get that, though. So they sit and imagine the day that god will open up the eyes of the really cute girl who occasionally smiles at them on youth group night and she will be theirs. She won’t. She’ll pick the dimpled captain of the football team just like the other hot girls. She’ll probably have sex with him, since it's what teenagers do no matter what they're told the Bible says. She’ll get pregnant, just like all the other hot girls who go to schools where abstinence-only sex ed doesn’t solve any problems and just means that girls are more likely to get pregnant because they don’t have a fucking clue what a condom really is. And the poor, deluded outcast will comfort himself with the idea that one of these days god is going to reward him. A few years after high school, however, things will change. See, they used to love to tell us that we were on the front lines of evangelism. The majority of people who accept Jesus do so before they turn 18 and, apparently, develop critical thinking skills. So it’s obviously imperative to get as many people as possible to pledge their love for Jesus above anything else and prove it by wearing a stupid ring. The opposing statistics, at which I’m just guessing at because they sure as hell wouldn’t have brought these up, probably show an inordinate percentage of people in their twenties who no longer go to church because they’ve decided, and for good reason, that they don't need to go to church any more. In the adult world there aren't any parents making anybody get up on Sunday morning. And, unlike junior high and high school, people can pick and choose their own peer group far more easily. Either way, nobody gives a shit about soccer after they get out of junior high. Not really.** And most people don’t give a shit about church after they graduate from college. Sure, they might go back when they have kids of their own, but that’s more of a glitch than a feature. The fact is that once you graduate from high school very few people care whether or not you’re cool. Once you graduate from college most people only care if you’re competent or not. Sure, there are probably going to be cliques at any given office, but no one is going to get tripped or have their laptop knocked out of their hands while they’re on their way to a meeting.*** Unless there’s someone whose job is to be cool, like a rock star, movie star, or one of those idiots who are famous for the sake of being famous, most people can get away with just doing what they have to do. It’s like church, but with a paycheck. And that’s why it’s way more fun to grow the fuck up. It's also why you don't really need to go to church once that's happened. Or play soccer, for that matter.**** ------------------------ *Ironically enough I actually found myself in the same room as said individual for the first time since high school this evening, just a couple hours after I wrote that paragraph. I don’t actually give a shit, I didn’t talk to her, and I don’t feel like it. It’s amazing how you can never fully leave high school behind no matter how far you are from it, though… **Nobody in America. People overseas who love futbol, well, um, good job. ***At least, I’d hope not. That would be a shitty, shitty office. ****There are plenty of people who actually love the sport of soccer/futbol in much the same way I love baseball. To them I say, "More power to you." Also, "Why?" EDIT: Absolute proof I was far less sober than I thought when I wrote this one: