I wrote last week that my goals for the Vegas soccer tournament were, in order, to stay healthy and uninjured, to have fun, and to win the thing. I thought it would be worthwhile to examine how that all went.
Between good luck (no unlucky falls), good will (no one tried to hurt me), and staying in tune with my body, I came home pretty beat up (four matches in two days takes a lot out of a guy) but uninjured, and I've been good about rest and recovery since I've been home to try to keep it that way.
As for winning: we made it through our round-robin group but lost in the quarterfinals, 1-0, on a late-game counterattack.
Which leaves the goal of having fun. Unfortunately, I didn't have nearly as much fun as I'd hoped. It's funny that it took me until my fourth go-round at this tournament to realize this, but it's actually a pretty stressful tournament. All teams play two game on Saturday and another before Sunday lunchtime. That's a tough schedule. And though the games are only 60 minutes long rather than the normal 90, the abbreviated play doesn't help all that much. Yes, it's easier on the body, but it leads to frenetic matches.
Also, many teams get put together just for this tournament, so they lack cohesiveness. Teammates who know each other well know how to rely on one another. Not being able to fully trust your teammates adds to the stress.
In the past, being stressed while playing soccer was normal enough that I didn't particularly notice it. Engaging in stressful situations and calling them fun is just something people in our culture do, and I was no exception. Now, I'm more aware of this approach, and it strikes me as a little odd. And this points to a crucial question: Is it worth it? Will I participate in this tournament again? Right now, I think the answer is no.