Archive for June, 2010

41. Not knowing a thing about soccer

Sunday, June 20th, 2010
This is a decent reason to get into soccer.

This is a decent reason to get into soccer.

I am sitting in the Kabul Hostel (which is a party-animal zoo, but that’s for another post)  bar in Barcelona right now, watching the Brazil-Côte d’Ivoire game and the place is packed with Brazilian backpackers, along with other travelers watching the game. Brazil scored to go up 1-0 about 15 minutes ago and people were having fits. I mean, once the ball hit the back of the net, these Brazilians were screaming, jumping up and down, waving flags and doing everything short of having a seizure. The frenetic display lasted four minutes*.

It’s clear I’m not a die-hard soccer fan because I’m sitting here on the Internet while this whale of a match is being played, just glancing over at the screen instead of giving it my full attention. I don’t even know what that says about me. I suppose I’m pretty self-absorbed. No wait, I’m chanelling my inner journalist; I like to stay informed about world events and my friends’ business on Facebook. Yeah, that’s what it means.

As a Canadian who doesn’t even watch much hockey — I’m more of a basketball guy — I know next to nothing about soccer. Sure, I played it as a kid, but so did everybody in North America who knows as little or less about soccer than I do. We call it “soccer” for chrissakes. It’s pretty obvious we know dick about soccer. That said, I hate when North Americans pretend they’re hardcore into soccer. Fine if you’re an immigrant kid or you played mad soccer your whole life. No, I’m talking about people who go traveling or live abroad and come home pretending they’re absolutely mad about international football. It’s a joke, like coming home and using UK slang with your buddies in Buffalo (see 19. Coming Home with a Lame Accent).

Christian Lander writes,

“Most white people choose a favorite soccer team based on either a study abroad experience or a particularly long vacation to Europe or South America. When they return, they like to tell their friends about how great ‘football’ is and that they are committed to ‘getting more into’ now that they have returned home.

“Some white people take this charade so far as to actually play in adult soccer leagues or attend a local professional match.”

I couldn’t agree more. In fact, upon going back to reference the above post, I found that Lander’s most recent post is about the World Cup. So to not inform the rest of this post as I’m writing it, I haven’t read his last one yet.

So what more can I say? Well, sitting here watching these people take in the game makes me wish I had an appreciation for the lack of scoring in soccer. I’ve often felt that watching soccer is like constipation. You’re rocking back and forth on your seat, trying to squeeze a long hard deuce out and it just refuses to come out, or in the case of the ball: it refuses to go in the fucking net. Go in the net. It’s your home, ball. Go to your home.

How can a game end 0-0? Riddle me that. That’s not a game. That’s a two-team aerobic workout. I don’t buy tickets to a sporting event to see nothing happen, with no clear winner determined. Unbelievable, these people.

I wish I had the appreciation internationals have for the “beautiful game”: its precision, its finesse, its teamwork, its short bursts of speed and athleticism… its flopping theatrics. As a fan of the NBA, and more specifically of the San Antonio Spurs, I’ve tried very hard to find joy in seeing players dive to the ground when somebody gently  brushes by them. I just don’t like it. That’s not sports to me.

Those are really the only two beefs I have with soccer. Not enough scoring and the diving is gay**. The rest is pretty sweet. I’m having fun witnessing this cultural international soccer experience in this here hostel. In fact, I’m gonna log off this wretched computer right now. What the hell am I doing? I’d better grab a beer and really immerse myself in this live phenomenon. I’m gonna damn well enjoy myself. But let’s get one thing clear: I’m not gonna come home and tell everybody I’m so into soccer. Like I said, I know nothing about it.

*Here’s a random social observation for you: Among the 50-odd Brazilians (aged 20-30) in this room, not a single one is a black Brazilian. All of European descent. What does that tell you about their poverty gap?

From Wikipedia.org: “Brazil has the largest black population outside of Africa with, in 2008, 6.84% classifying themselves as preto (Black) and 43.80% as pardo (Brown)[7], for a total of 50.64%.”

**Two main features of San Antonio Spurs basketball, coincidentally.

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