If your idea of a perfect winter holiday is to while away the hours watching live top-class soccer, you best not live near Seattle.
Among native Puget Sounders, perhaps only octogenarians can speak of such an experience in their lifetime. As we take a view to scores of frigid, rain-swept Premier League matches pressed into a cramped calendar, we can only surmise that long ago someone came to their senses and simply said, No more.
Who knows, someday MLS may conform to the FIFA time table. But a look back at the last century or so illustrates why playing through the winter is problematic in Cascadia and downright impossible in the majority of MLS markets. New Year’s Day 2018 forecasts 12 of those cities mired in sub-freezing temperatures. Montreal’s high is predicted to reach minus-6 degrees F.
But enough about MLS. This is more a story of the hardened souls (masochists, some might say) in Seattle’s long-ago past who truly played for the love of the game and the sense of community it fosters, and did so in some of the most trying of circumstances. This is a tale of how and why our forefathers once tread the less-than-firma terra during the short, bleak and, yes, festive days of winter.
For as long as there’s been footy on this side the world, Thanksgiving has held special significance on the American soccer calendar. The fourth Thursday in November has long served as a demarcation, sometimes the starting line, sometimes the finish., but always something special.
There was once a time when the U.S. rotated on the same axis as the rest of the world, when football was played here in the worst of conditions, from late fall through early spring.
For sure, our forefathers were hearty souls. In the days of 10-hour shifts and 6-day work weeks, they pressed on; they persevered. For the miners who first brought the grand game from the Old World to these environs, the labor was extremely difficult and dangerous.
This time of year, in Newcastle and Black Diamond, they would rarely see the light of day, sinking into the earth before sunrise and not emerging from coal shafts until after nightfall. They had but 1.8 hours of leisure time. Continue reading A thanksgiving for soccer→