Our Soccer Coach Teaches Art History
by Alden Eagle
Guys, I’m not going to sugarcoat this: that was a terrible forty minutes of soccer. You looked like a Dutch painting. Like a seventeenth-century still-life. Some explosions of color, sure, but little sense of dynamism or vitality. Specifically, you guys are making me think of Vase of Flowers With Watch by William van Aelst. Now, who knows the painting I’m talking about? Anybody?
Fine. I’ll just have to tell you about it. It’s a painting where there’s this table with a bunch of stuff on top of it. I guess actually it might be more of a ledge or a counter top, but that isn’t the main focus so forget it. What’s important is the vase filled with flowers and the watch.
This is a painting about slow decay. The watch is reminding us about the passage of time and the fact that we’re all going to die. And there are some signs that the flowers in the bouquet have already been there too long and the petals are starting to fall off and there are little holes where bugs have eaten the flowers and the leaves. It’s a painting that says, “Look, even here, where everything’s pretty, where there are all these flowers and nature’s bounty and everything, the stench of death is still in the air and there’s no getting around it.”
Gentlemen, this is not a flattering comparison! Look, I’m not going to tell you that I love Dutch still-life paintings. I’m more of a Vermeer guy, myself. Give me a lady making dinner or something, and not just a bunch of flowers. But even people who love a a good still-life, even people who adore a painting of a vase of dying flowers--those people would agree with me that a soccer team does not want to play the way a seventeenth-century Dutch master paints. If you play soccer like a Dutch painting, you will lose. Everybody knows that.
You guys are lucky we’re only down by two goals. It could have easily been worse. I’m talking to you here, Clay, so stop picking at the grass and listen up. Defenders: you’re reminding me of A Still Life With a Dead Rabbit and Falcon by Dirck De Bray. Unfortunately, I mean that you’re reminding me of the dead rabbit, and not the falcon. Just standing around idle, like you barely even know that there’s a game happening. We really needed some of that falcon’s alertness, guys. The falcon knows what’s going on. The rabbit just lies there limp.
Forwards? Strikers? Don’t think I’m going to start complimenting you guys, either. You’re playing sloppy, and you keep losing the ball with these lazy passes. You can’t just loft the ball in the general direction of the player you want to get it to. It’s so obvious. It’s like the skull in Still Life With a Skull and a Writing Quill. Think a skull symbolizes death? Of course it does! Pietro! How many times are you just going to lob a pass from the middle up to the wing like that? Their defenders know exactly what you’re trying to do, so they beat us to the ball every time. We need a little finesse, Pietro. You can’t just be so blunt and obvious.
We’ve got to change the painting in the second half, guys. We’ve got to.
You’ve seen The Funeral of the Anarchist Galli? I hope? It’s a all about motion and energy, and that’s what we’re lacking. The black-clad anarchists in the painting are angular bundles of kinetic energy, ready to explode. We’re practically seeing their last bits of restraint wearing off before our eyes. That’s how we need to play soccer! You know the painting, yes? Carlo Carrà? Italian Futurist?
Seriously? Raise your hands if you’ve seen the damn painting. Anyone? Oh, of course. Just my luck--only Adams has seen it. No offense, Adams, but I don’t care if you know what I’m talking about. I don’t need the goalkeeper to know about Carrà’s careful control of line and color or the way the anarchists’ banners blend into the background, suggesting an endless field of movement and boiling tension.
No wonder you guys are so difficult to coach properly. How can anyone play soccer without understanding the basics of art appreciation?
Good news for us--my art history textbook was in my bag. Take a look so you know what I’m talking about. Look, guys. The color! The intensity! The boldness! That is our game plan for the second half, gentlemen. Got it? The Funeral of the Anarchist Galli. That is how we need to play soccer. I only wish I’d made copies for everyone, but sometimes you have to improvise. I thought this was going to be more of a Picasso-style match, but forget all those drills we ran at practice--the Guernica offense and all that. That’s over.
Did everyone get some water? Some orange slices?
Good. Bring it in. Hands in. Let’s hear it: “Italian Futurists” on three!