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Chris Gay: Shopping for soccer cleats is no fun

Posted: August 16, 2017 - 1:03am

When I write my guide to parenting - a tome with the noncontroversial title Spank Your Children! - there will likely be a chapter on shoe shopping.

I hate shopping for shoes. There are so many different brands to choose from, and they have to be a certain color, have a certain feel. This is a very complicated process. Multiply this fun to the nth power when buying shoes for children.

On Saturday, I took my two soccer players to a certain sports store in Columbia County. Our mission: to find two pairs of cleats at a reasonable price.

This used to be an easier job when they were just kids. Now, I have two 11-year-olds who no longer wear "kids" cleats. Instead, I have two preteens with big, ugly, smelly adult feet. God help us when they grow into them.

So there we stood along the wall looking at the different pairs of cleats. I try to be fair with them. I told my children they didn't have to get the cheapest ones. They also weren't allowed to go over a certain price, either. So we narrowed our field.

While they both searched for soccer cleats, Hannah emerged with a pair first. Then, it came time for the boy to find his cleats. He found an Adidas pair on sale, ones named after soccer star Lionel Messi. There was very limited stock. We couldn't find the right size. So we moved on to Nike.

These cleats were a little more expensive. I didn't care. We spent more than 30 minutes searching for shoes, a frustrating quest that made Indiana Jones' search for the Ark of the Covenant seem easy. My IDGAD (I Don't Give A Darn) factor had kicked in. Just find something, for goodness sake!

Well J.T. found a pair of Nike Men's Mercurial Vortex cleats. The store had four different styles of Mercurial Vortex cleats: III FG, VI FG (two styles, slightly different) and VI. We looked for one style, but we'd find one of the other three. Again. And again. And again. Why, pray tell, can't Nike just give the shoes four different names like Vortex, Tornado, Hurricane and Windstorm? Instead, we have this confusing mess.

Ultimately, J.T. gave up on Nike. The boy zoned in on a pair of red Under Armour cleats that were somewhat reasonably priced. With my IDGAD in full effect, I told him to get the shoes. Click! Clack!

So my two soccer players now have cleats for the upcoming season. After going through this ordeal, they'd better work hard and win the championship.

The good news about this? We won't have to buy cleats for another eight months, when baseball season starts again. By then, who knows how large their big, ugly, smelly feet will have grown? Be certain, though, we'll undergo the same frustrating IDGAD process once again.

 

WRAPPED UP: The Atlanta Falcons last week finally signed their star running back Devonta Freeman to a long-term extension after his big-mouth agent, Kristin Campbell, made it a pre-Super Bowl distraction earlier in the year. Freeman has been fantastic for two years, looking like Atlanta's version of Barry Sanders 3.0.

In the Super Bowl, he played great, posting 75 rushing yards on 11 carries and catching two passes for 46 yards. Still, he missed a key block that led to a sack of Matt Ryan late in the game, a costly play that helped pushed the Falcons out of field-goal range - and don't forget the dumb Jake Matthews holding penalty the play after. Those were just some of several things the players did to lose the Super Bowl. (The defense sitting back in zone/prevent mode letting Tom Brady pick them apart was unforgivable. You can't go into wuss mode and expect to win.)

So Freeman got paid last week. Good for him. The two-time Pro Bowl player signed a five-year extension worth $41.25 million. The deal runs through 2022. I like Freeman. He seems like a good guy. He's obviously a talented running back. I hope he continues the success he's had already.

Earlier this week, though, Freeman was put in concussion protocol by the Falcons. He will not play in Atlanta's preseason game this week. As a long-suffering Atlanta pro sports fan, I hope this is just a minor setback and nothing more. Hopefully, he'll get back on the field soon and continue to prove he's the best running back in the NFL.

 

AND SO IT BEGINS: High school football season starts Friday in the Augusta area with a handful of games - Augusta Prep already started last Friday in Savannah, Ga. It's still seems way too early for football. Still, it's time to get ready for the season.

Let's start with the number five. That seems like a realistic number for the amount of Columbia County teams that should make the playoffs, though I'm hoping all seven make postseason play. I really like Augusta Prep this season. I believe the Cavaliers have the talent to make a deep postseason run.

I think Evans will be good. Lemuel Lackey is one of the best coaches around and he knows how to turn around a program, which is what he's doing with the Knights.

Keep an eye on Grovetown, which defeated Thomson, 21-0, in Friday's scrimmage. I know it's just a scrimmage - and there've been some issues earlier this year in Thomson - but still. The Warriors have a ton of talent on that team and are led by a great, young coach.

I think Greenbrier will contend for a playoff spot. And I look for Harlem to be much improved. And who knows? Maybe Augusta Christian and Lakeside will surprise some folks this season.

This is a good time for Columbia County football, the level of which seems to be improving. Now before you get ahead of yourself, Columbia County public school teams still have a long way to go to catch up with the state power programs. But the good news is this: The schools, overall, are trending upward.

It sure beats the alternative.

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