Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Drive Time

TigerBlog was dropping TigerBlog Jr. off at a lacrosse practice this past summer, at a field that's 45 minutes or so away, when he saw something that made him extremely, extremely jealous.

As TB was pulling into the parking lot, he saw one of TBJ's teammates - and his older sister, who now had a driver's license and was therefore assigned the task of bringing her brother to the practice.

Imagine, TB thought, a world of self-reliant travel.

If you have kids, especially ones who are old enough to be involved in activities, then you understand the non-stop chauffeuring that goes into getting them from one place to another to the next and then home.

When there are multiple kids involved, well, then you can multiply it out exponentially.

They're all perfectly normal, healthy activities. Music lessons. Sports. School clubs. Parties. Movies. On and on and on it goes.

Of course, that doesn't even take into account such arcane concepts as "dinner" and "homework."

And, as a parent, the natural reaction is to say, at least inwardly, that it's better than having them sit on the couch playing video games or hanging out with a bad crowd on the "corner," if such corners still exist.

Gone, though, are the days of "go outside and play," apparently.

For TigerBlog, Tuesday nights are the biggest runaround nights he has now.

There are all kinds of things going on each Tuesday for TigerBlog Jr. and Little Miss TigerBlog, and TB is actually somewhat proud of how he has managed to balance them as much as possible to the point of no overlap and pickups and drop-offs that are well-coordinated.

To the modern suburban family, it's nearly perfect choreography.

It doesn't leave much downtime, obviously, and it's amazing how such a schedule can quickly become very normal, with almost no thought given to the madness of it.

Yesterday was Tuesday of course, which meant TigerBlog had very little time to sit and watch Princeton soccer on ESPNU. What he did see, though, was what it always is when TV comes to Roberts Stadium: a Princeton soccer infomercial.

First of all, the facility again looked great, especially with the TV cameras on the bench side of the field, so they shot into the stands.

Second, Princeton won the game against Lafayette 2-1, with all three goals in the first 24 minutes.

And, of course, there is the whole idea of having a program showcased on a national network like ESPNU.

Yes, this hasn't been a great year for Princeton soccer, as both teams are unlikely to be able to make enough of a late-season run to get into the Ivy League race and ultimately the NCAA tournament.

Still, there it was yesterday, a shot of the banners that hang in one of the pavilions at the stadium, marking off Ivy League championships and NCAA tournament appearances for both teams.

And there were the ESPNU cameras, making a special point to stop at two particular banners, one recalling the men's 1993 NCAA Final Four appearance, the other for the women's 2004 NCAA Final Four appearance.

It's been a strange year for the two soccer teams.

The women through 11 games have outshot their opponents 170-103, for an average of 6.1 shots per game. In 2008, when the women went 12-3-2 and won the Ivy League, they outshot their opponents 186-159 for the year, or an average of 1.6 shots per game.

Clearly, the women are playing well enough for long stretches of games to have a better record; they've simply run into some tough luck.

The men are having a similar kind of year, this on the heels of back-to-back NCAA appearances and last year's perfect 7-0-0 Ivy record.

Like the women, the men have a huge edge in shots over their opponents - 161-129 through 11 games. Like the women, the men are below .500.

If anything, the 2011 season shows how fine the line can be in a sport like soccer, where one key scoring chance here or goal allowed there can mean the difference of a whole season.

Both teams have enough games left to finish strongly in 2011, and both are playing a bunch of young players.

And, of course, there is the stadium itself, which makes every game on campus a great event. Or every game on television look great.

At least for the few minutes here or there that TigerBlog got to see it.

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