#1
Old 02-28-2012, 12:23 AM
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Soccer Protective Headgear

Um... Okay... This is for a story I might write some day...

There are "corporate" soccer leagues, right? Where a team is recruited from various local companies. A big used-car dealership might field a team, or, if they aren't big enough, a group of them might. Semi-formal games, corporate sponsored uniforms, the big rivalry between the Pepsi bottling plant and the County Roads and Highways dept., etc.

Do the guys on the field ever wear protective headgear? Is it ever a mixed kind of affair, where some do and some don't?

I'm envisioning a scene where one guy wants to wear headgear, to protect against concussions, but everyone else thinks that's being way too wimpy and sissy.

Is that the sort of thing that ever does happen, or could happen?

Would it ever happen in just loose informal "pick up" soccer, where a bunch of guys meet now and then after work or on weekends? One guy wants to wear headgear, and his mates all jeer at him?

(I played corporate softball for a very, very brief time. I got thrown off the team for not being any damn good at it... But they were very polite about it.... It is entirely possible that my writing is equally incompetent...)
#2
Old 02-28-2012, 01:59 AM
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There are loal leagues in which teams from local companies compete, although pub teams seem to be more common. I've certainly never heard of any head protection being worn. You've got to be able to head the ball, anything that might interfere with that would be in contravention of the rules.
#3
Old 02-28-2012, 03:00 AM
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I know nothing about the state of affairs in local or corporate leagues, but in the professional game, head protection, though rare, is not completely unheard of. The most famous piece of soccer headgear is probably that which is permanently affixed to the noggin of Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Čech, who has been sporting his trademark padded helmet ever since suffering a serious head injury in 2006. Inter defender Christian Chivu has also been wearing a similar contraption after a skull fracture in 2010. Other players may also wear something similar on occasion - here's John Arne Riise giving the fashion a try in a pic from his Roma days.

Of course, if you're a real manly man, you'll go for the Terry Butcher look instead...

Last edited by Martian Bigfoot; 02-28-2012 at 03:02 AM.
#4
Old 02-28-2012, 03:26 AM
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I can't imagine it ever happening in an informal game in the UK. If it did, the man wanting to wear protective gear would definitely be teased. However, if he'd had a skull injury before and was very self-confident, he'd be able to get away with it at least in a defensive position.

Why do you want to write about soccer? Might it not be better to stick to a game you know?
#5
Old 02-28-2012, 08:58 AM
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Protective head gear in soccer amount to polypropylene head bands, which guard against skull-to-skull contact during heading. They may be effective in decreasing the likelihood of skull fractures, but not concussions (which are caused by translational and rotational acceleration).

here are a few references on the topic:
http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16046355
http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22071392
http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19030135
#6
Old 02-28-2012, 09:01 AM
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Soccer players at any level don't wear headgear and anyone wearing one without some serious pre-existing head condition would be looked upon as a right wimp.

The only professional player I know who routinely wears headgear is the golakeeper for Chelsea, Petr Čech, who gets a pass because he had a skull fracture.

Last edited by SanVito; 02-28-2012 at 09:01 AM.
#7
Old 02-28-2012, 07:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martian Bigfoot View Post
. . . Of course, if you're a real manly man, you'll go for the Terry Butcher look instead...
Grin! Thank you for all the info, but, wow, especially for that last'n! That's what my character is thinking of when he wants to wear protection!

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Originally Posted by SciFiSam View Post
. . . Why do you want to write about soccer? Might it not be better to stick to a game you know?
Personal challenge; I'm trying to grow. I'm trying to learn. Doing research is the key to it, and part of my research is asking people who know.

If I only wrote about what I know personally...um... Well, that's put an end to my science fiction and fantasy, right on the instant! I don't personally know anything about aliens and magic!
#8
Old 02-28-2012, 07:42 PM
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Originally Posted by SanVito View Post
Soccer players at any level don't wear headgear and anyone wearing one without some serious pre-existing head condition would be looked upon as a right wimp. . . .
Well, yes, that's kind of my main point: the character would be, in fact, heavily teased for being a wimp.

My question really is: could it happen? In a corporate league, or in just a pick-up game with a bunch of guys meeting for fun?

If I'm advised to drop the idea, I will... That's why I'm asking!
#9
Old 02-28-2012, 08:03 PM
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It would be more likely to happen if they were women. My daughter played at a high level for years and it was common to see the headgear. My daughter wore one after a couple of head injuries. Sometimes entire teams would use them, and some high schools issue them to players.

I could see a player having the headgear in her bag with shin guards and socks and tape and put it on out of habit.
#10
Old 02-28-2012, 09:22 PM
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I totally understand about learning - it just depends on how much this learning will prevent you actually writing the story.

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Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
Well, yes, that's kind of my main point: the character would be, in fact, heavily teased for being a wimp.

My question really is: could it happen? In a corporate league, or in just a pick-up game with a bunch of guys meeting for fun?

If I'm advised to drop the idea, I will... That's why I'm asking!
I guess it could happen. It'd be extremely unusual though, and the people teasing him wouldn't be stereotypical jock bullies jumping on the chance to tease someone. Even those that didn't tease him would think he was really odd or trying to be Petr Cech, unless he did have a previous head injury.

Soccer is - for fun playing - is not a sport that requires a lot of kit, and turning up with a lot of kit would make you look like a noob who cares more about the kit than the game and will probably drop out after a few practices.

I mean, when you get a bunch of people meeting up for soccer (it feels so wrong saying soccer instead of football) purely for fun, in the park or something, not all of them will even be wearing shinpads.

That might be different in the US, though. Hell, in the UK people will sometimes play football for fun without shinpads, football boots, uniforms or even a goal ("jumpers for goalposts" can even apply to adults) and still meet up at an assigned time every week and work out strategies, have assigned positions, do warm-ups and practice plays, and compete informally against other teams or just divide into teams to play against each other. This is usually five-a-side football, rather than 11-a-side.

If they play in a league of some sort (some pub teams play in amateur leagues, for example) they will of course have more kit. Though even then I've seen goalies without gloves.

I'm not saying you should drop the idea though. Just watch more football. In a corporate league I'd say it's far more likely to happen, though still pretty unlikely.
#11
Old 02-28-2012, 11:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SciFiSam View Post
I totally understand about learning - it just depends on how much this learning will prevent you actually writing the story. . . .
Heh! Wild horses couldn't prevent me!

I do figure, though, that the bit with the headgear is gonna have to go...

Would it make more sense if they teased him about shin pads or knee pads? Looking at YouTube, I see that not everyone wears these...

(Concept was character development. "I don't want to get hurt." "Yah, ya sissy, be a man, do you see us wearing armor?")

(One of the times I played softball, I wasn't wearing a groin-cup. Got a line drive right in the cojones. Holy ouch. I could distinctly feel my ureters...outlined in flame...)
#12
Old 02-28-2012, 11:34 PM
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Hannibal Lecter Klaas Jan Huntelaar has been wearing a mask recently after he's had a broken nose.

It's a good thing we don't have censuses in The Netherlands anymore.
#13
Old 02-28-2012, 11:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
Would it make more sense if they teased him about shin pads or knee pads? Looking at YouTube, I see that not everyone wears these...
Shin GUARDS... no, everyone wears them, other than sometimes at practice. In fact they are required equipment and you can be tossed off the pitch if not wearing them. Knee pads... I've never ever seen anyone wear them.

Head gear... I believe Pennsylvania now requires it for all youth league players. Overall, though not so common. My son got a serious concussion playing and did wear one for a few games but found it distracting. According to the doctor who treated him (also is the concussion doctor for the Colts) said that mouth guards are better at concussion prevention than head hear.

Bottom line though for your story, if he is a good player with a decent reason for wanting to wear it, no he probably wouldn't be teased too much, but if he was someone who wanted to wear safety goggles, head gear, and who knows what else then he would be teased.
#14
Old 02-29-2012, 12:01 AM
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Just a little bit of advise... I hope you do continue on this path, but be aware that your lack of knowledge on a sport that is followed very seriously by some could take someone out of the story. I'm sure there are also regional variations, but something as simple as calling them shin pads rather than shin guards would tell me immediately that you weren't knowledgeable about the game. Have someone who is a soccer fan proof read/edit before you publish.
#15
Old 02-29-2012, 01:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
I do figure, though, that the bit with the headgear is gonna have to go...

Would it make more sense if they teased him about shin pads or knee pads? Looking at YouTube, I see that not everyone wears these...

(Concept was character development. "I don't want to get hurt." "Yah, ya sissy, be a man, do you see us wearing armor?")
Eh, I'd say it depends on the tone of your writing. Headgear would be good for a giggle (unless there's a back story in which headgear is a logical choice for this character). If you want to keep it more realistic, mention knee pads. Shin guards are so common among rec leagues that no-one would comment on it. If anything, my impression was that dedicated, skilled players (well, for a rec league) were more likely to have shin guards, not less.

It also depends on whether this is intended to be a gentle ribbing among friends or something that is meant to humiliate the character. Or an example of the second is masquerading as the first... human interactions can be such head games.

Last edited by FlyByNight512; 02-29-2012 at 01:15 AM.
#16
Old 02-29-2012, 02:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyByNight512 View Post
you want to keep it more realistic, mention knee pads. Shin guards are so common among rec leagues that no-one would comment on it. If anything, my impression was that dedicated, skilled players (well, for a rec league) were more likely to have shin guards, not less.
Knee pads are unheard of in football. And shin pads are universal, certainly not confined to dedicated, skilled players.
#17
Old 02-29-2012, 02:34 AM
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Rugby is the closest thing that kinda fits the stereotype. I've never heard of a debate about headgear in soccer, but rugby--definitely. People get heated over headgear debates for adult rugby teams.
#18
Old 02-29-2012, 02:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
My question really is: could it happen? In a corporate league, or in just a pick-up game with a bunch of guys meeting for fun?
Yes, it could. Shin guards are normal... now... and wherever previous posters live, but back in *counts on her fingers* '04 and in Costa Rica, one of the players for a corporate / pickup game (all players were from the same company and the game had been set up in advance, but it wasn't part of a competition) brought shin guards and the other guys, who were from half a dozen Spanish-speaking countries, started teasing him. He pointed to the soles of someone's regulation shoes and said "nails" (ok, so the bumps are not properly nails, but that's what they're called in Spanish); then pointed to his shins and said "delicate. Got a problem?"

Nope. No problem.


I've seen goalies with knee pads.

Last edited by Nava; 02-29-2012 at 02:51 AM.
#19
Old 02-29-2012, 03:25 AM
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Originally Posted by rachelellogram View Post
Rugby is the closest thing that kinda fits the stereotype. I've never heard of a debate about headgear in soccer, but rugby--definitely. People get heated over headgear debates for adult rugby teams.
True, although many people wear them in the forward pack, as head butting is frequent. It would be more unusual (and liable to teasing) for a back to wear one as they don't take part in the scrum.
#20
Old 02-29-2012, 06:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Spud View Post
Just a little bit of advise... I hope you do continue on this path, but be aware that your lack of knowledge on a sport that is followed very seriously by some could take someone out of the story. I'm sure there are also regional variations, but something as simple as calling them shin pads rather than shin guards would tell me immediately that you weren't knowledgeable about the game. Have someone who is a soccer fan proof read/edit before you publish.
In England they are called shin pads, not shin guards. Correcting me on that kinda tells me that you're not so knowledgeable yourself.
#21
Old 02-29-2012, 06:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
Heh! Wild horses couldn't prevent me!

I do figure, though, that the bit with the headgear is gonna have to go...

Would it make more sense if they teased him about shin pads or knee pads? Looking at YouTube, I see that not everyone wears these...

(Concept was character development. "I don't want to get hurt." "Yah, ya sissy, be a man, do you see us wearing armor?")

(One of the times I played softball, I wasn't wearing a groin-cup. Got a line drive right in the cojones. Holy ouch. I could distinctly feel my ureters...outlined in flame...)
No - not everyone would wear shin pads for a friendly kick-about, but it definitely wouldn't be weird to do so. Perhaps a mouth guard could work, partly because it looks silly.
#22
Old 02-29-2012, 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by SciFiSam View Post
In England they are called shin pads, not shin guards. Correcting me on that kinda tells me that you're not so knowledgeable yourself.
You may want to actually take a moment to read what you quoted... see that part about regional variations? My assumption was that they were not writing to a British audience since they are calling it Soccer.
#23
Old 02-29-2012, 09:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spud View Post
You may want to actually take a moment to read what you quoted... see that part about regional variations? My assumption was that they were not writing to a British audience since they are calling it Soccer.
You said that there are regional variations but that using the term shinpads would show that someone isn't knowledgeable about soccer. Either you accept that there are regional variations, OR you're claiming that I'm using the wrong term - you can't have it both ways.
#24
Old 02-29-2012, 09:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
Well, yes, that's kind of my main point: the character would be, in fact, heavily teased for being a wimp.

My question really is: could it happen? In a corporate league, or in just a pick-up game with a bunch of guys meeting for fun?

If I'm advised to drop the idea, I will... That's why I'm asking!
It could happen, but in the same way that he could turn up wearing a party dress and ruby slippers.

The reality is that the chance of it happening is almost vanishingly small.
#25
Old 02-29-2012, 10:45 AM
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I think that it could be a really good character development device--precisely because so many people here are having such a hard time with the concept of someone wearing one. That indicates that your character would be received in the way that I think you want him to be.

I've been around soccer for quite some time. I refereed at various levels for years. I think--maybe once--I saw a kid wearing headgear. He may or may not have had some sort of previous injury. As the referee I was of course responsible for what the players wore on the field* and I wasn't quite sure how to handle this at first. In the end I just figured---meh.... it's just a 14 year-old. I inspected it, saw it wasn't a danger to anyone else and just let him play.

Yeah. It all hinges on the "previous injury" thing. In your story, if the guy was widely known to have had a skull fracture two years ago, nobody would give him any grief, IMO. But if not, and he just showed up that way... boy, would he get some flack. And that's here in America where most people don't really know a lot about the game anyway.












*I was pretty strict about it too--caught a lot of jawing from a player in a competitive men's open league I insisted had to remove his wedding ring. (Ended up just having him tape it up all nice a neat)
#26
Old 02-29-2012, 10:54 AM
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When I played goalie, at the secondary school level, I wore knee pads. I didn't see many other keepers wearing them, though. I got tired of having the skin taken off my knees by the poor fields we were playing on. On good grass fields, I didn't bother.

I wouldn't be surprised to see soccer head protection start to make an appearance, considering the developing research on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). I think you'll see it in youth leagues before you'd see it at the higher levels, due to the present day's much greater emphasis on child safety. I had thought though, that the vast majority of the problem was due to heading the ball, and that it was much more of a problem when leather balls were used, as they could absorb much more water than plastic/polymer balls. More water meant more weight, meant a heavier blow to the head. With polymer balls, I'd think it's less of a problem, even considering the great speeds these guys can kick a ball. Besides his head injury, Petr Cech also gets a pass since he's one of the best keepers in the world. If he wanted to dress like Buckethead, I think he'd get a pass.

Cynically, watching my sister's rec. league, the protective equipment that rec. players should use are knee braces. I swear, her league must have been started by the local orthopedic surgeons' association.
#27
Old 02-29-2012, 12:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gray Ghost View Post
I had thought though, that the vast majority of the problem was due to heading the ball, and that it was much more of a problem when leather balls were used, as they could absorb much more water than plastic/polymer balls. More water meant more weight, meant a heavier blow to the head. With polymer balls, I'd think it's less of a problem, even considering the great speeds these guys can kick a ball. Besides his head injury, Petr Cech also gets a pass since he's one of the best keepers in the world. If he wanted to dress like Buckethead, I think he'd get a pass.
I've certainly read that old balls caused long term brain problems, for wont of a better word. Bit like injuries a boxer might sustain. I think in modern times it's less about the damage the ball can do and more about clashing heads with another player going for the same ball. Isn't this what happened to Cech?
#28
Old 02-29-2012, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Gray Ghost View Post
When I played goalie, at the secondary school level, I wore knee pads. I didn't see many other keepers wearing them, though. I got tired of having the skin taken off my knees by the poor fields we were playing on. On good grass fields, I didn't bother.
In the 80s (when I were a teen) the goalies wore tracksuit bottoms for that.
#29
Old 02-29-2012, 01:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gray Ghost View Post
When I played goalie, at the secondary school level, I wore knee pads. I didn't see many other keepers wearing them, though. I got tired of having the skin taken off my knees by the poor fields we were playing on. On good grass fields, I didn't bother.
Same for me when playing goalie in my youth. We used to play on cinder fields then, but I've never seen any player but a goalkeeper wear them, whatever the field was like.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SanVito View Post
I've certainly read that old balls caused long term brain problems, for wont of a better word. Bit like injuries a boxer might sustain. I think in modern times it's less about the damage the ball can do and more about clashing heads with another player going for the same ball. Isn't this what happened to Cech?
No, it was an unintentional kick, or a clash between his head and a striker's shin/knee (can't quite make out which by the poor youtube vid, and I don't remember), respectively.
#30
Old 02-29-2012, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by SanVito View Post
Isn't this what happened to Cech?
He was hit in the head by a player's knee. Video. It's a bit strange - it doesn't look serious at all at first, but then he ends up being stretchered off. Turns out his skull was fractured. Apparently, though, it was later discovered that he has a weaker than normal skull.

Edit: Beaten to it by EinsteinsHund.

Last edited by Martian Bigfoot; 02-29-2012 at 01:55 PM.
#31
Old 02-29-2012, 09:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spud View Post
Just a little bit of advise... I hope you do continue on this path, but be aware that your lack of knowledge on a sport that is followed very seriously by some could take someone out of the story. I'm sure there are also regional variations, but something as simple as calling them shin pads rather than shin guards would tell me immediately that you weren't knowledgeable about the game. Have someone who is a soccer fan proof read/edit before you publish.
Definitely! I have seen several requests here on IMHO where people have asked others to read their stuff, and, in due course, I hope to follow that path!

(There is a lovely old Punch cartoon, showing a fox hunt, and everyone is all rolling around screaming in laughter -- the hunters, the horses, the hounds, everyone -- all at the expense of one poor blighter who is looking utterly humiliated. "The Man Who Called Them 'Dogs.'" I am trying not to be that man!)
#32
Old 02-29-2012, 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by SciFiSam View Post
You said that there are regional variations but that using the term shinpads would show that someone isn't knowledgeable about soccer. Either you accept that there are regional variations, OR you're claiming that I'm using the wrong term - you can't have it both ways.
I bounced into the "regional variants" thing when I bought "Book of Two Halves," edited by Nicholas Royle, a collection of football stories, thinking it would help me in terms of basic research. Lovely fun book, and fascinating stories...but all from an English point of view, and completely useless for my purposes!

Research 0, Enjoyment 1!

Thank you very much, all y'all, for your comments. Research and Enjoyment tied!

(Hm... Can anyone recommend a good book of soccer fiction that might help me with basic vocabulary? No, I will not plagiarize!)

("Please to call it 'Research.'" Tom Lehrer.)
#33
Old 03-01-2012, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
(Hm... Can anyone recommend a good book of soccer fiction that might help me with basic vocabulary? No, I will not plagiarize!)

("Please to call it 'Research.'" Tom Lehrer.)
You'd be better off reading memoirs maybe?
#34
Old 03-01-2012, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
(Hm... Can anyone recommend a good book of soccer fiction that might help me with basic vocabulary? No, I will not plagiarize!)
It has been a while since I read it (and is probably more a stylised autobiography than fiction) but Nick Hornby's "Fever Pitch" may be just the book you are looking for.

http://amazon.com/Fever-Pitch-Ni...0620418&sr=8-4
#35
Old 03-01-2012, 12:53 PM
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I'm yet another who plays (rec league in the US), and I've never seen a player where headgear of any sort, except on tv with Cech and Chivu (who it should be said always makes me laugh as I think of him as a WWII-era pilot with the chinstraps hanging down).

If the goal in your writing is simply to have a device for most players to make fun of one player, you might want to have that individual wear really fancy shoes (boots, if you're in Britain). I don't think it's as big a deal anymore since maybe even more than half of the professionals wear white or colored shoes rather than black shoes, but it used to be a big deal. In my league, it does seem like most players that wear yellow or orange shoes have a few tricks up their sleeves. I have no tricks up my sleeves, and I'd feel ridiculous wearing bright shoes, which would draw attention to the fact that my game is based on hoof-it-and-run (unfortunately...I wish I were better).

Also, I agree with amanset about Fever Pitch. It's a great book and really tells great stories of English football (and culture) in the 70s and 80s. I hope one day it's re-published with a few extra chapters, seeing that the Arsenal he wrote about would be unrecognizable in this day and age.
#36
Old 03-01-2012, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by amanset View Post
It has been a while since I read it (and is probably more a stylised autobiography than fiction) but Nick Hornby's "Fever Pitch" may be just the book you are looking for.

http://amazon.com/Fever-Pitch-Ni...0620418&sr=8-4
It sounds like fun, and I just sent off for it. But...will it help me much, given that it's about an English experience, and I'm trying to learn about American soccer culture?

I'll definitely read it, though, for fun if nothing else! Thank'ee!
#37
Old 03-02-2012, 11:23 AM
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There have been a couple other professional players to wear the headgear. I can recall Pat Phelan (New England Revolution) and Alecko Eskandarian (DC United and others). There may have been one or two other MLS-ers.

That said, it would be a little strange for a recreational league. Playing recreationally, you tend not to see the scenario of guys clashing heads going up for a header. It's just not worth it. And me personally, I avoid taking headers when I can, which is usually. Am I a wimp for it? Yup.
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