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Playing a gentlemen's game

Posted: April 19, 2014 - 11:08pm

I’ve always thought of soccer as a gentleman’s sport.

The coaches don’t turn red-faced on the sidelines and tense until the veins in their heads almost burst. The players seldom maul each other. When one player offends another, the referee quietly holds up a yellow or red index card to indicate the magnitude of the transgression. Soccer is a spectacular sport to behold.

It was no surprise when my husband, the assistant coach of the high school boys’ soccer team, reported the gallantry with which he and his team behaved when returning from an away game late one Friday night.

The girls had already arrived at the school, disembarked from their bus and departed for home. Exiting their own bus, the boys spotted an abandoned backpack, duffle bag and pizza box in the parking lot. The call to heroism blared.

The situation could not be left to chance. The owner may or may not realize she left them.

What if she didn’t return to get them? What if she didn’t even know they were missing until Monday morning? The boys spread out through the parking lot and environs searching for the young lady in need of saving from dire consequences.

Boys and men believe that girls and women suffer the same affliction as them, specifically the habit of misplacing important items and continuing on oblivious until panic strikes.

My husband loses his wallet, his glasses, his cellphone or any combination of those daily. Racing around the house probing in places and sorting through papers where he isn’t likely to find them, he entreats me, “Can you help?”

Despite solid efforts to reunite the backpack, duffle bag and pizza box with the rightful female owner, the task force came up short.

They had to admit that they’re no good at locating a person gone missing. But all was not lost.

The backpack, duffle bag and pizza were found, and the coach and the boys patted themselves on the back for that accomplishment.

Deciding that the items should not be lost again, my husband gained the aid of one his players in transporting the things to his truck.

He planned to call the girls’ coach and let her know that one of her players was missing some belongings.

The young man who helped carry the backpack, duffle bag and pizza box shook his head over the sad situation.

Putting the stuff in the back of my husband’s truck, he hesitated with the pizza box. He peeked inside. As his nose had suspected, the box was not empty. “We can’t let this pizza go to waste, Coach,” he said. My husband shrugged. It could be some time before the young lady claimed her belongings. He acknowledged that the kid made a good point and let him remedy the potential for wasted food.

Returning to the bus to collect the water coolers, my spouse happened upon a girl pacing back and forth, looking this way and that, right about the spot where he’d picked up the backpack, duffle and pizza.

She asked if he’d seen them. His chest swelled with pride as he returned her lost possessions to her.

“Where’s my pizza?” she asked.

“Someone ate it,” he said. “We didn’t want it to go to waste.”

Her eyes widened and her forehead creased. “But it was vegetarian,” she said.

“He didn’t seem to mind,” offered my husband. Seeing her disappointment, he added, “We looked for you.”

“I helped sweep out the bus. I was only gone 10 minutes. My stuff wasn’t lost,” she mumbled.

Give that gentleman a red card.

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