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The Theology of Motion

Soccer is a chance to appreciate the beauty of the human condition.

Last Updated
4 min read
Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

I will never forget the first time I saw Rose Lavelle score a goal, which is funny, because I could not tell you which game it was in, or where that game took place. I simply remember watching her twist her body into a spring as the ball arced into her foot at an awkward angle, then releasing all that energy at once, lashing the ball into the net with such force that her standing leg whipped outward like a dancer performing a tour jeté. You could almost feel the heat generated by the ball as it spun against the nylon.

I remember muttering fuck reverently at my laptop — I was streaming the game while I was supposed to be doing something else — and backing the feed up to watch the goal again. I do this a lot now: there are certain goals I have seen two dozen times in an attempt to figure out the mechanics of time and space and muscle. After that Rose goal, I rapidly developed a mild obsession with the way smaller players strike the ball — your Rose Lavelles, yes, but also your Raúl Ruidíazes, Daniel Podences, Jess Fishlocks, Xherdan Shaqiris, etc. — because they often have to put more oomph through the fulcrum of the hip to get power behind the ball than a taller player does. This is, for someone who spends a lot of time wondering what the human body might look like in flight, or endowed with super-strength or speed, profoundly cathartic. For split-seconds at a time, you get to see life untethered by gravity. You start to understand why the ancient Greeks bookended their sporting events with supplications to the gods. 

As a result, it may have been inevitable that I began to notice the small but significant ways in which watching all this soccer had changed my religion. 

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