Netherlands or Spain? I'm mulling it over. But first I need to contemplate how I underwent a transmogrification from someone who paid no attention to someone who actually cares: from football skeptic to fledgling football fan.
In America, of course, we call it soccer. But I'm content to say "football." If there's one thing I learned from living in England for nearly ten years, it's to use the English language with precision (in which case, shouldn't it be "foot-and-head ball"?!).
Anyway, it's too hot on the East Coast to do much thinking, or as one East Village bar posted on its door: "It's too hot to think, so let's drink!" So, herewith, an attempt to tell the rather twisted tale of conversion to football fandom, though perhaps it's more typical than I'd imagined? Part I today, and Part II — How I Came to Change My Mind About Football, or At Least the World Cup — tomorrow.
PART I: Why I Never Liked Football Whilst Living in England
Chalk it up to my contrarian nature. I'm not one to throw myself into chanting, banner waving, and other tribal behaviors before I've had a chance to study and make an appraisal. And it did not take me long to find things I was less than enamored of, including:
1) The game itself — the endless running up and down the pitch with hardly any scoring. I can't tell you how many times I got up to make a cup of tea, or dozed off, just as the one goal of the match was being made.
2) The fans — mostly male, many of them yobbos (at least that was the term in my day, I guess they are now called chavs?) and hooligans, not exactly the most appealing lot to a young American woman.
article contending that such "rib-poking" has provided catharsis for the two nations over the years. Who am I to contradict Burns? He certainly knows English culture better than I do. It's just that I keep thinking about the late historian Howard Zinn and what he said about harmless pride becoming an "arrogant nationalism dangerous to others and to ourselves."
It's perhaps worth noting that of all the reasons I came up with not to like football, none of them included the argument that has surfaced recently in right-wing circles in the United States, which is that football is collectivist and carries the threat of socializing Americans' taste in sports.
If I had to dig a little deeper into my reasons for not liking the game, I think it probably had to do with what drew me to try living in England in the first place. The moment they entered a football stadium, normally reserved English people would unleash emotions I didn't know they had, and it wasn't a pretty sight.
seeing the elephant. Observing violent male bonding rituals wasn't on the agenda. (And I'm sure it didn't help that my arrival in England coincided with football hooliganism reaching new levels of hysteria.)
So I gave football a miss and moved on to cricket...which I didn't take to either, but that's another blog post (and a half).
Coming Soon: Part II — How I Came to Change My Mind About Football, or At Least the World Cup, and This Blog Picks a Favorite!