A Mostly Fractured Take On Current Events

Soccer: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

In Current Events on May 23, 2012 at 2:37 pm

The year was 2007. Upon learning that the world’s most popular sport is soccer, I imagine that officials in Johnson County hurriedly began planning a massive soccer field complex just to follow trends. Planners had two ambitious goals for the project. First, it had to be a top-notch recreational facility that offered kids a way to get something antiquated called “exercise.” Secondly, the area had to give parents a surefire way to tire their kids out for the weekend so mom and dad could retain their sanity. On both counts, I’d say the Overland Park Soccer Complex has been a fantastic success.

Of course, its success wasn’t always assured. Before the first shovel ever hit ground, the project came under assault from groups that voiced loud protests.

Neighbors expressed concerns about the location of the complex. They were worried about the possibility of hearing too much noise.

In all the world, nobody had ever gone deaf because of a blaring vuvuzela horn before, but why take the risk? Other groups voiced doubts about the area’s lack of a retail footprint.

They were worried about the possibility of having only 35 Starbucks locations in the city opposed to the more humane number of 36. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed. The fields were built and later emerged as a huge attraction.

Exactly how big of a draw are the fields? Well, on any given Saturday, about 80 percent of the world’s children occupy that stretch of land near 135th Street and Switzer Road.

Kids of all ages, sizes, and skill level play a sport that I didn’t get to play when I was a kid. I tell people the reason I didn’t play soccer was that it wasn’t offered to me back in the olden days.

In reality, I didn’t play it because it requires a hideous amount of running. My nephew Connor and my niece Megan play soccer on those fields.

They do more running in a single game than I did in all of 2011. I get tired just watching them.

Watching their games is also great fun. But I’ve discovered something that’s almost as engaging: Watching overbearing parents in their natural habitat.

Granted, most parents are great fans of their kids. And their positive cheers match the occasion perfectly.

You hear a lot of stuff like this: “Nice try, Chris!” or “Great pass, Amy!”

But when supportive chatter morphs into a rant about missed opportunities, God help us.

At that point, you hear a lot of stuff like this: “No, Jimmy! You missed the cutoff man because you were caught sleeping again! That is not how I’ve been teaching you since you were three!”

Pull up a chair because an adult meltdown is afoot.

Speaking of chairs, most people bring them to the games. This being Johnson County, however, to call them “chairs” would be an insult.

Have you seen these things? Some of them are nicer than what King Henry VIII sat on. These days, if your chair doesn’t have extra padded cushioning, a shade overhang, cupholders, wi-fi capability and satellite hookups, well, I’m afraid they won’t let you in.

Outside of chair snobs, there remains so much to like about the fields. The complex has proven itself as a great investment.

Perhaps the least-known attribute of the facility is the relative ease at exiting the parking lot. With that many cars, you might think tempers would flare and cause accidents.

But there’s only about one middle finger extended for every 50 cars. Not bad!

Even in their most positive assessments, the planners could not have anticipated a better outcome for the project.

© 2012 Pat Hester


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