I am going to attempt to compare what I learned in the soccer world and the desire for the win with our political desire for the win. Abortion became the goal for Republicans and nothing else mattered. I have seen how a one-sided focus on a goal can blind us (including myself) to actual justice. I learned a lot of this in the soccer world. Side note: for those who truly care about abortion, research it like I did. You will find Roe who is not happy with where we are on this issue, and you will also hear Frank Schaeffer lament how he helped start the Religious Right using abortion as their tool. His family used to be considered evangelical royalty. It is eye opening. If you are serious about abortion, please research and not call people you know and love names or suggest they don’t care. They may know more about the story.
What has lead me to write this post is the Supreme Court Justice pick that recently occurred. I am not making a statement on if he was a good choice. I am writing a story to ask if this pick was moral? Even if he is good, do the ends justify the means for christians? I am asking this because this story played out in a different way in my own life. I had to discover my own plank in my eye to realize I was participating in an unjust system. I did not realize this until the system worked against me.
When Kimberlyn first started club soccer, we played for a really good team. But it soon fell apart because too many players showed up who were not as advanced as the current players, but we did not have enough players to split and make two teams based on development. Many were already playing for two teams. (They were 7 years old- it is serious business far too young). What was left we felt would hold Kimberlyn back, so we left too. I hate saying this because a) she wasn’t ahead b) we just got there and immediately thought we were too good and played the game we said we would never play. We came to Mutiny because this club was trying to tell a better story than big club and we wanted to be a part of that story.
We went over to a big club and played for a coach we knew. This coach is great at flattery. It was easy to get the big head with this coach and think you are the bees knees. So, when he wasn’t treating everyone the same I did not respond how I should have because he was making us feel like champs. He was elevating us above others, and I was ok with that until it worked against us. My friends and I were a bit put off by how he treated others, but not enough to leave. But it soon turned into a monster of a situation. I saw the writing on the wall and left angry. I felt lied to and my child was used. In many ways this is true, but I ignored signs before this to prevent the heartbreak that occurred later.
I was angry others did not leave with me. I was pretty arrogant thinking just because I finally woke up, now you must also wake up even though it isn’t working against you yet. We go back to Kimberlyn’s former team who has a new coach, and I just throw ourselves into building this team back up. This is where I realize I can be bold, and I could engage people to create community. My first thought to rebuild the team was to call everyone who had been rejected and left out of the former team. This strategy ended up being a really good thing, it opened my eyes to hurt people feel being rejected in any area of life. Some parents were crying that they found a place that would give them a chance. At 8 years old, soccer had become this monster hurting kids and families. I realized we had a better story, so I told it.
Our Mutiny story was fairy tale for awhile. Both kids were now on teams that were really excited to be together. We weren’t winning a lot, but relationships were developing and progress was being made. I loved where we were. I was getting to know all the teams at Mutiny and worked to tell their story too. I would walk around Founders and hugged all the families I have come to know and love, and I still do love them. These are precious memories always and forever despite the directions this story takes in the near future.
Jake had 4 teams and had to give up 2 of them because we were overwhelmed, and it was so hard to do this – I have written this in a previous post (Our Mutiny story) so I will be as brief as I can in what happened. We gave the team to 2 trusted coaches. Both coaches still have these teams today, not at Mutiny, and it is a painful story.
Kimberlyn’s team after years of work and building with constant challenges, became a solid 06 team ready for try outs. Then US Soccer invades and changes the rules to age pure -meaning the year you were born determines your team. Six months before try outs and years of building, Kimberlyn and 5 other teammates are now building again. But these were 6 committed girls, the heart of the team in many ways, and they all stayed. It wasn’t until the week before try outs that 6 more girls show up and a team is made, and they make classic league. None of that was supposed to happen. We were joyful and praising how our faith had been made sight. It was a story that really might not ever be told again in club soccer. We did what we knew we could do, develop players without stealing from other teams.
After being on cloud 9, something horrible happens with Blake’s team. I knew what happened was true. I was close enough to the situation and had been on alert already. No one knew this. This is something we will not recover from. I was sure the team would rally around us and we would work to rebuild because we were such great friends. I was wrong. The insider is now the outsider. This is when I realized the phrase, “Can’t we agree to disagree” can be an oppressive question. What was overlooked to get their way and win knocked the wind out of me.
All of the sudden, Jake and I are alone with this team as they all walk away. Even the Mutiny board had no idea how much pain we were in. I never could tell the story again the same way after this. The few who stay were new and did not know what was happening. I was devastated. It hurt Blake so much too. He could not understand why he could not see his friends anymore and a coach that was like family to us. I was trying to deal with my own grief and address his. I was not the best at this. Thankfully, the counselor at Blake’s school is a dear friend and stepped in to help. Blake never got into soccer again. We tried several times to support new coaches, but our hearts were crushed. Even Jake was at a loss.
The next year we work to reorient ourselves. I tried to pour myself into Kimberly’s team, but even that one wasn’t feeling the same. Once you make Classic league you have to win. Talk about a way to kill all the joy. It absolutely killed it, at least for us. Kimberlyn did not benefit from that system. Those who are on bottom won’t. This realization takes me somewhere later. It changed all of us too. We are still friends, but who we were when we started is not who we are now. I know that is the way it will always be, we never stay the same; I just wish the system hadn’t destroyed it.
The following year, the fall out from what happened last year was not done. This time it comes back with a vengeance. Everyone associated with what happened is leaving. When I finally realized we were losing all, I told Jake 3 more people are going to leave, we must let them go. It is over. We lost so much of our heart and soul. We absorbed the pain of what happened. We worked so hard and created a story that was so good, and now it is gone. Just to add to the pain, Kimberlyn’s team who had made the year before the week before try outs, now folds the week before try outs. I could not get over everything falling apart. And to make it even more personal, it was people from our past who had hurt us that were benefiting from this break up. I was done.
When I looked at the rubble of what once was and how alone we felt now, I realized I wasn’t as pure as I thought. I had compromised too. I only got mad when the system worked against us. I was well aware people were not being treated right before it came for us. I was telling a better story for Mutiny, but some of it was defiance and wanting attention that we were doing something else. It is hard to write this- I wanted it to be everyone else’s fault for what happened, but it isn’t. Now I will say Blake’s team opened my eyes to something deeper going on in humanity. But I need to write that in another post. This one is already too long.
Thankfully, Kimberlyn’s story is so great now. She is playing for her dad, and we are playing in a league that benefits development. It is a dream. We are going on year 2 playing with this team. This is a team that can play without the stress, and all of the players are benefiting and enjoying it-what a concept. It is not a story many will buy into because it is counter intuitive. But unless you are thrown into the sea with no other options but to either sink or find life again, it won’t be a story many will naturally gravitate towards. You have to experience it to know it is good news. Sometimes losing is winning.
So to circle this back to the Supreme Court pick. Why does our soccer story take me to the Supreme Court pick? This must be me being all over the place, right….It takes me here because I saw good people celebrating this pick. It is like everything that happened along the way does not matter because now the Republicans and evangelical christians are getting what they want. It is like their vote for Trump is now justified. Our motives matter. To celebrate is apathetic to women, Muslims, People of Color, Mexicans and Latinos who are having their babies snatched from them, etc. We are so focused on the end game, we ignore what is happening during the journey that might be telling us to stop and rethink.
I am going to continue this story with how faith plays into this in the next post.