footy musings from a (relative) newbie

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4th Anniversary

A month+ since I last blogged. I’m not just waiting for Champions League to restart. I’m mostly meh on the current status quo of the big European leagues. Well, except for Spain, where an actual title race seems to be developing.

Hard to believe, but It’s been four years since I became a football fan

Four years since I fell in love with what we fans call The Beautiful Game. And, to tell you the truth, I still can’t understand why.

Looking back, it’s not like the 2010 World Cup – which was what triggered my interest in the sport – was a particularly good one. Yes, Spain won its first World Cup, but the final was boring as fuck. Some of the matches before the final round were exciting – most notably, the quarterfinal between Uruguay and Ghana. But others – like the marquee matchup between Portugal and Spain – turned out to be tedious duds.

So, why was that the tournament that transformed me into a football fanatic?

I think part of it was that I started paying attention to the sport at a time when coverage of it had become more widely available in North America.

The internet also obviously helped. The proliferation of blogs and news sites dedicated to the sport, as well as fans from all over the world congregating on social media outlets like Twitter and Reddit, helped to make a novice like me feel like I was part of this much larger community of fans.

But even those practical explanations don’t full account for my fanatical interest in the sport (I mean, is it normal that I listen to a minimum of four football podcasts every week?)

Over the past four years, as I’ve tried to figure out why I became smitten with the sport, I’ve concluded it’s because I’m a soap fan. And there’s no better soap around than world football.

I was reminded of that when I watched Borussia Dortmund play Bayern Munich in their first Bundesliga match last fall. As Mario Gotze prepared to come on the field as a substitute, I tweeted:

Gotze was playing against his old team for the first time since Bayern made the sneaky move to take him away from Dortmund towards the end of last season. Needless to say, the boos that greeted Gotze in his old home stadium were deafening.

All of which is a long way of saying that the main reasons I follow football are the human stories. Which player will adjust when moving to a new league and which won’t? Which coaches will take the gentle, respectful approach with their players, and which will rule with an iron fist? And which team rivalries will live up to the hype when they actually play?

In short, I have as much investment in what’s happening off the field as on it.

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why football?

It’s hard to articulate exactly why I fell for football (soccer to us fans) in the summer of 2010. I’ve tried to narrow my reasons down to the following top 10.

1. Zinedine Zidane

2. Xabi Alonso

3. Mesut Ozil’s Eyes

4. Cristiano Ronaldo’s Thighs – c’mon, you know it’s true.

5. Champions League

6. Steven Gerrard

7. Wayne Rooney’s Love Life, although even without it, football would still be one big soap opera

8. Clint Dempsey

9. Hating Manchester United & Chelsea

10. Football pundits – even though they drive me crazy with their uncanny imitations of high school mean girls.

A couple of other things you need to know about my football fandom

  • While I’m an avid follower of the English – sorry, Barclays Premier League, I don’t support any of the league’s 20 teams. I tried in vain to find a team to support last season and found that I derived most of my enjoyment from watching the whole shebang unfold over 9 months. I do hate Manchester United and Chelsea, though, so I don’t know if that really makes me a true neutral.
  • Following football is a largely mediated experience for me, which means my view of the game will be influenced by that. I never grew up playing the game in streets and parks; I only went to my first live football game this year (Chicago Fire lost 1-0 to Portland Timbers in case you were curious).

What else?

Stay tuned!

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