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Parents Blog

Susan Boyd blogs on USYouthSoccer.org every Monday. A dedicated mother and wife, Susan offers a truly unique perspective into the world of a "Soccer Mom." 
 
 
Opinions expressed on the US Youth Soccer Blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of US Youth Soccer.

 

Throw Me a Line - I'll Tell You a Story

Susan Boyd

Lately I’ve been noticing the prevalence of the word “line” in my day to day life. These could be synonyms for stripe, quotation, queue, and instrument or could be words containing the word, “line.” In fact, there are 752 words in the English language that include the word line. Many of these are scientific terms like phosphatidylcholine or cholinesterase that I’m sure show up in my medications or my foods, but I’m totally unaware of their existence. However, others like “online” and “sideline” completely invade my experience and shape my actions and conversation. There are over 150 phrases centered around the word, “line.” Of course, once you notice something, it seems that’s all you notice, like neck tattoos on swimsuit models or how George Clooney’s eyes are uneven. Now that I’ve become aware of lines drawn everywhere, I can’t seem to look away. I’m amazed at how often lines figure so significantly in our lives in a way that actually define our environment. This is a youth soccer blog, so I’ll eventually get to how the terms impact us there, but to lay the groundwork, I need to talk about all the other “lines” in our lives.

Financially, lines figure in how we deal with our money. There’s the proverbial “bottom line” that either panics or delights us depending on how often we shopped on QVC that month. If we are short of funds, we may want to line our pockets, but that usually implies something illegal. When we’re dealing with a bad bottom line, we’ll want to bring our spending into line. If we can’t do that, we’ll probably find that we have to pay cash on the line rather than be extended credit. But as long as we hold the “financial” line (a sports metaphor I’ll bring up later) we might just improve our position enough to afford top of the line items. Should we buy on credit, then we’ll be expected to sign on the dotted line and meet payment deadlines.

As a writer I’m always concerned with my byline, redline edits, what my audience reads between the lines, and how I can lay some sweet lines down. I work from an outline in creating my plotline, and underline sections I want to revisit. As a mother I encourage my kids to drop a line of thanks for their birthday and holiday gifts. I want my children to toe the line, but that’s a difficult goal to achieve. They can be known to step out of line. I can draw multiple lines in the sand though they are generally unheeded on a regular basis. Therefore on occasion I have to draw battle lines which are much firmer than any line in the sand, an action which can elicit conflict where I have to take a hard line. If I encounter a sassy reply I may counter with “don’t hand me that line.” The older kids get the more gullible they believe their parents become, expecting us to swallow their excuses hook, line, and sinker. All of which means it’s harder to keep our kids in line since there’s no clear line of action. Somewhere along the line, our kids grow up and we find ourselves at the end of the line as far as raising them, but never at being their parents.

When it comes to sports, lines are everywhere. We can begin with the obvious ones sprayed in white on the pitch. There are touch/sidelines and end/goal lines which define the parameters of the field, although guidelines for the dimensions of a full-sized field are a variable 50 to 100 yards wide and 100 to 130 yards long (for international competition FIFA says lines should be 70 to 80 and 110 to 120 yards). A half-way line is drawn side to side across the middle of the pitch with an exact center spot surrounded by a center circle having a 10-yard radial line from the spot. On either end of the field extending out from the goal mouth is the six yard box framed by two six-yard lines drawn outward parallel to the sidelines and joined by a line parallel to the goal line. Surrounding the goal area is the 18-yard box. Two lines extend 18 yards outward parallel to the sidelines from spots located 18 yards from the left and right back goal posts on the end line. These two lines are joined by a line parallel to the goal line. There’s no blurring of the lines on the pitch all of which must be a consistent four to five inches thick.

Teams are made up of frontline attackers, midfielders, and defending linemen (or linewomen). The defense is expected to hold the line by not letting opponents dribble past. To begin the match, players line up alongside one another, then disperse as the ball is kicked to take up their various lines of attack or defense. To insure a good play, a teammate will put it all on the line but may also take the line of least resistance. Communication is key to any good strategy, but occasionally players will get their lines crossed. Offside occurs when someone gets ahead of the defensive line before the ball is struck, but many fans will argue there’s a fine line between infraction and legality especially when it involves a goal. In the line of duty, players may overstep the line of law and accept a penalty in order to thwart an attack. Defenders are expected to clear the line when a ball lands in their 18-yard box. When shot after shot fails to score, players and fans may believe that opponents are moving the goal line. Coaches will try to streamline the plays but ultimately circumstances dictate the lines of action.

Getting to games and tournaments requires dealing with timelines and intermittently with airlines. We’ll cross several state or even national borderlines on our travels. We may end up traveling from coastline to coastline, and once on the shoreline we may want to take a dip. In bigger cities we might negotiate the beltline surrounding the metropolis or take mainline streets. While our primary focus is on seeing our kids play, we can still take advantage of the views in the cities we visit by driving or climbing up a ridgeline to take in the skyline at sunset. Thank goodness we no longer have to depend on landline phones or we’d never find Starbucks on our journeys. An amenity on our trips is the over-the-bath clothesline, which we end up using to dry our swimsuits and those socks we rinsed out in the sink after two games in the mud. We can’t maintain our normal diets which means we have to really watch our waistlines (or not when Cincinnati Chili is so awesome!). We shouldn’t forget to check out the local newspapers especially if the team is doing well since the sports headlines might be about our kids on any given dateline during the event.

This has just been a baseline exploration of the many ways “line” inserts itself into our lives. Obviously it’s never this concentrated, but it can be pretty close, especially during a match. Somewhere along the line you’ll run into these. Now you won’t fail to notice them. You probably aren’t thanking me. That’s okay. I just needed to lay it all on the line.

 

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