Thank you all for stopping in to my party for Offside. I’ll contact the winners on Saturday night EST, so you have time to enter if you missed the party. I hope you had fun!
Once again, you can find me here:
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And now let’s have that cover in full size!
Third and final excerpt of Offside.
ADAM rolled over, reaching for Colin, and slapped the empty bed. He opened his eyes. No Colin. He sat up on his elbow, listening for sounds from the bathroom. There was nothing. Shit. Had Colin developed remorse overnight? Adam hoped not because the sex was… well, it was awkward, actually. There were a few misplaced elbows, and Adam was pretty sure he had a bruise on his inner thigh, and Colin had fallen off the bed once and laid on the floor laughing until Adam pulled him back up, but it had all worked, more so because neither of them minded. It wasn’t even getting on with it and ignoring the ridiculous stuff. They had enjoyed the ridiculous stuff. They hadn’t even fucked. Just done every other possible thing[...]
[...]And now he was gone. Maybe he’d gone to church. Adam rolled out of bed. Was Colin one of those “wrath of God” morning-after guys? Colin hadn’t said anything, but maybe he didn’t know, this being his first time and all. Adam wasn’t sure if he could handle being part of something that made Colin feel guilty. He stumbled into the bathroom, peed, and brushed his teeth.
When he returned to the bedroom, he noticed a piece of paper lying on Colin’s—already thinking of it as Colin’s—side of the bed.
Lovell wants you in his office at 7:30 a.m. He wanted me at 7:00. I woke you up, but you said something very rude, so I’m leaving this note instead. Don’t say I didn’t try. Colin.
Adam glanced at the clock. 6:55. Shit. Lovell calling him into the office couldn’t be good. He yanked on a pair of jeans and a shirt. Grabbing a tie and his duffel bag, he raced out the door.
I’m a writer who loves soccer. It was a no brainer. So, in lieu of my waxing on about it, how about some pics? Yes? Yes!
Here’s your second and final chance to win the book. For this one, tell me which team Adam played for before St. Louis.
(I know, hard, right?)
Because soccer has a relatively low profile in the United States, there have been no studies (that I could find) about the presence of homophobia in the game. However, in 2009 noted UK group Stonewall did a comprehensive survey of fans, players, and officials to learn their perspective and experiences. The results are fascinating, and available for free here.
The homophobia in Offside that Adam faces as an out player becomes part of the background of his life, but when it is directed at Colin, Adam goes ballistic. Homophobia is a part of life in any sport, but it needn’t be. Certain groups are working to make the game a safer place for GLBT fans and players.
Here are a few:
From the website: “The Justin Campaign was founded to demonstrate that ten years after Justin Fashanu’s tragic suicide in 1998, homophobia is still hugely prevalent in both grassroots and professional football.
Along with raising awareness the campaign has a strong focus on Art, Events, Education and football. Through these four key initiatives and some forward thinking strategic work with other inclusive sporting organisations, The Justin Campaign seeks to challenge the stereotypes and misconceptions that exist around LGB & T (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Trans) people and work towards a future where the visibility of LGB & T people in football is both accepted and celebrated.”
From the website: Our mission: to increase awareness of and end homophobia in football (soccer) and promote equality, regardless of sexual orientation, in the beautiful game.
We will work toward our goal by adhering to and promoting the following values: Acceptance, Tolerance, Equality.
From the website: Changing the Game: The GLSEN Sports Project is an education and advocacy initiative focused on addressing LGBT issues in K-12 school-based athletic and physical education programs. The Sport Project’s mission is to assist K-12 schools in creating and maintaining an athletic and physical education climate that is based on the core principles of respect, safety and equal access for all students, teachers and coaches regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression and integrating these efforts into overall school plans to ensure a safe, respectful school climate and culture.
Please use the comments to contribute links and/or Twitter accounts of any organizations you know about that combat homophobia in sports. I donate 10% of my royalties for all my stories to charity. For Offside I will be donating to a TBD group that combats homophobia in sports.
In Offside, goalkeeper Daniel Michaels is the grounding force on the team. Always ready with advice or a smart ass remark, he’s king at defusing a tense situation. In honor of him, here’s a compilation of some amazing saves.
And here’s a picture of Iker Casillas, one of the current greats. (He’ll be the one in the air.) You know, just because.
Here’s a second excerpt from Offside.
Adam had to look away when Colin closed his eyes and moaned as the cheese burst forth from the pasta inside his mouth. Jesus. Adam shoved a forkful of lettuce in his mouth and concentrated on chewing.
“How are you getting along?” Colin asked.
Adam needed a second to realize that Colin was talking about the team, not about certain things going on beneath the table. He shifted his legs to give himself more room in his trousers. “Logan hates me and Doyle is not going out of his way to make me feel welcome. Logan was good in my position, right? Why take him out?”
“The Ians have a plan,” Colin said.
“Is it for the team to unite through a mutual hatred of me?”
“Just trust them. It’ll be fine.” Colin smiled. He shrugged after a few seconds. “I mean, it’s usually fine.”
Colin had his scrunchy nose thing going, and truthfully, he could have been telling Adam that Lovell was going to make an all-zombie team and Adam would say it sounded great because of that nose. Adam supposed he should be glad that he was self-aware enough to know this. For once he wasn’t overdressed in his suit. All around them, the other couples were dressed up too. Colin even had a tie and jacket on, borrowed from the maître d’. The jacket’s sleeves were too long. He pushed them up every few seconds but got marinara sauce on them anyway. The fifth time, Adam reached across the table for Colin’s wrist, and Colin didn’t protest when Adam folded the cuff inside. He gamely held out the other arm for Adam to do, too.
“Thanks. They were driving me crazy.” He looked delighted, dazzlingly so, and Adam had to look away again. When he did, he noticed the other couples, so the word “couple” was in his mind when he looked back at Colin. Nice restaurant. Nice clothes. Holy fuck, I’m on a date. Maybe he’d been wrong about Colin’s sexuality. And here he always prided himself on not being thick about these things. He looked at Colin again, feeling open and nervous. Colin, for his part, was busy shoveling pasta into his mouth and letting his tongue dart around to catch bits of cheese and sauce (oh God), which wasn’t helping Adam at all.
Although none of the players in Offside are based on real players, I want to highlight two of the best in MLS.
Brian McBride retired last year after a career spanning sixteen years. He is most recognizably associated with the Columbus Crew (1996-2004) and the U.S. Men’s National Team (1993-2006). English fans came to know and love him during a four year stint (2004-2008) with Fulham F.C. I first saw him during the 1998 World Cup where his playing and positive attitude made me a lifelong fan. Primarily known for his amazing and precise headers, McBride hides an unyielding drive behind that sprightly smile. He’s also one heck of a trouper. During the 2006 World Cup game against Italy an opposing player (I’ll not mention his name as I’m sure he wants the incident to fade away) elbowed McBride in the face. Despite needing three stitches, McBride played to the end of the game with a bandage on his head. In a game where some players fake injuries and throw themselves to the pitch like fish on land, McBride’s dedication is commendable.
Check out a video of his moves (and the blood, so heads up for those of you who are squeamish).
Now let’s meet Landon Donovan!
Landon Donovan has risen through the ranks to become one of the best and most consistent players and leaders in the MLS. He first came to my attention during the 2002 World Cup. (I feel compelled to mention that soccer was not regularly broadcast at the time, hence my only discovering players during World Cup airings.) Like McBride, Donovan’s career spans several different teams, but he is most associated with the Los Angeles Galaxy (2005-current), where he won the Golden Boot five times so far, and the U.S. Men’s National Team (2002-current). He’s a little guy with amazing power. Check out the compilation video below to see him in action.
Adam may not think much of St. Louis at first, but I love it! Here are some places highlighted in Offside.
Lambert International Airport is the place to go if you’re goin’. It’s also the place to be if you’re coming, which is how Adam encounters it in chapter one. The former TWA hub (that’s an airline that went under in 2001 for you young’uns) is forever linked to Charles Lindbergh, who flew mail runs from Lambert and left for New York to continue onto his historic flight to Paris from there. One of his personal planes hangs over the entrance to security in Terminal One.
For several years travelers were reminded to attend their baggage by the voice of actor John Goodman, a Missouri native. (Every person I know has seen him in the airport.) Sadly, he is no longer the voice of Lambert-International. I don’t know how others feel about this, but as a nervous flier I found his announcements quite soothing. Now it’s a woman and while she gets the message across, I miss Goodman every time.
LIA was recently struck by a tornado. Fortunately, no one was hurt despite massive damage to the terminals.
The Hill is an Italian-American community jam-packed with restaurants and the perfect place to take a date for a nice evening out.
Although not named in the book, Blueberry Hill is the inspiration for the place Colin takes Adam on their first date. A casual restaurant steeped in music history and which still features fantastic live music from a range of artists, Blueberry Hill is in the heart of The Loop. This beautiful shop and restaurant-lined area is a respite from the bustle of the city. Adam and Colin run through the streets with hecklers in pursuit and hide on nearby Washington University’s campus.
Laclede’s Landing, another beautiful and historic area, is located on the St. Louis Riverfront. Goalkeeper Daniel Michaels takes Adam to a fictional restaurant here to drown his sorrows with his fellow teammates.
So, there you have it. Is your next vacation going to find you in the Gateway to the West?
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