Not a sissy’s sport

I was raised believing that there is something inherently wrongwith soccer.

It was nothing personal, a sort of propaganda taught by myfootball coaches over the years. Soccer players surely possessedcertain “sissy” traits that were hard to define. Mostly, it had todo with lying on the ground, pretending to be hurt in hopes thatthe other team get penalized with some stupid colored card.

My whole perception of the sport changed last week when Iattended a “Thirsty Thursday” at PGE Park. The Portland Timberswere facing the Calgary Mustangs in what would be my first, but notmy last, professional soccer game.

It’s nice to have a reason besides the Portland Beavers toattend events at PGE Park.

Unless you are one of the few who closely follow the newssurrounding the Beavers and Timbers, you may be unaware of thesituation both teams currently face. They need an owner. We need tohelp.

The Pacific Coast League is the current owner of the teams andthey are looking for prospective buyers. It is now in our hands tokeep these local teams by showing these buyers that there is localinterest.

It would be horrible to lose the ability to attend a ball gameon a lazy summer evening. Especially as PSU students, who don’thave a baseball or men’s soccer team, we should be showing thelocal teams some support.

I was a bit apprehensive when I heard “Oh Canada,” but someoneinsulted the Mustangs by reminding one of the players, “you getpaid in Canadian money.”

It might have been an inside joke amongst soccer fans, but Ifound it was funny simply because it is true.

I settled on the outskirts of the Timbers Army, araucous bunch who collected empty beer cups in grand display on thedugout roof.

About ten minutes into the game, a Mustang player went down,grabbing his ankle, looking towards the ref. I was about to turn tomy friend to let him know that this was the “sissy” act I wastalking about, when the crowd started out in a chant. It went tothe tune of John Mellencamp’s “R.O.C.K in the U.S.A.” but they weresaying there’s no pi-ty in the Rose Cit-y. With that, they won meover.

Before attending this game, I thought a hockey goal was the mostexciting thing in sports. My friends always argued that it’s a gamewinning home run or a last second basket, but if a game winninghockey goal were scored at the last second, nothing could top it.After witnessing a soccer goal, I realized I was wrong.

When Byron Alvarez knocked in a goal at the 25th minute, thecrowd went nuts.

Arms went up all around like he had made a field goal and doublehigh fives were shared liberally. My buddy, A.C. Italliano, likenedit to the Neanderthals reaction once they finally realized how tocreate fire.

After they scored the goal, Timber Jim came out onto the fieldin overalls. Apparently Timber Jim was a lumberjack. He came outand fired up a big two-stroke chain saw and approached a log thatwas on the north side of the field. Cupping his hand at his ear, hewaited until the crowd got loud before he cut a slab off thelog.

I was lucky enough to be leaning against the dugout and whenTimber Jim climbed over the fence and went running along thedugout, I was able to touch the freshly cut piece of wood.

I was told that it would bring good luck. I was glad to hearthis, being that during the ceremonial log touching, wood chips gotin my beer. Mr. Italliano got a sliver for what it’s worth.

For all of you out there that were like me and you hated soccer,at least go check it out. Not only will you be helping the Timberslook more promising to a potential buyer but you’ll be helping theBeavers out as well. They play again on Saturday the 29th, but ifyou’re waiting for another “Thirsty Thursday,” you’ll have to waitfor May 10. While you wait, you can spend your next threeThursday’s building up your tolerance at the Beavers game.