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non structural - sports and that other football

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It is such an intersting subject, I hope I can equally offend/amuse 
everyone here. I just have nothing structural to talk about at the 
moment. So you may want to delete now, it got a bit long on me even 
after editing.

I am on a working vacation in Spain at the moment, staying with 
family. I live in Florida. I have a decent amount of stamps in my 
passport for my age. I was married to a foreigner, date foreigners, 
business partner is a foreigner, staying with foreigners, now I am a 
foreigner getting my residency in another country just because… Yo soy 
gringo...  And the funny thing so far watching soccer in Spain is that 
though this country is in LOVE with futbol, because of a certain guy 
named Franco, they are NOT nationalistic. They do not have the pride 
in their red and yellow flag the way we do in the red, white and blue, 
or Brazil in their Green and Yellow. Their national anthem has no 
words so they made up a dirty song about Franco. Our state pride has 
nothing on their autonomous communities and their own culture, 
tradtion, and languages. But now all the talk, newspapers, and TV is 
about the team from ESPAÑA, not from Madrid or Cataluña or Pais Basco….

Sports, art, music, etc. are subjective. Not everyone likes the same 
thing, clearly. All my friends and business associates cannot convince 
me golf is an activity worthy of my time (even though it can involve 
beer drinking, I am told)- though there are more courses in Florida 
then anywhere. I would rather go surfing, or do yard work, or maybe 
finally finish tiling the bathroom…..

I cannot stop watching Australian Rules Football since I got here, and 
have watched way too much World Cup, with teams that make me go look 
at a world map. Sports, art, food, music, etc. are part of the culture 
too, you cannot ignore that or separate it, nor would you want too. We 
have great differences even throughout the US in who enjoys what, 
where, and how. I barely kicked a soccer ball when I was a kid in 
Wisconsin, but I learned to ice skate when I could walk. I loved 
playing hockey, but cannot sit and watch a regular season NHL game. 
Lacrosse is now one of the fastest growing sports in the US. Beach 
volleyball is in the Olympic. Somewhere they play field hockey and 
water polo in college. I saw college bowling on TV the other day, 
women at that. The times they are a changin´.

I (and many of my friends) actually prefer most college sports to pro 
(my exception being the Green Bay Packers). College football in the 
southeast is THE sport, just look at the size of the stadiums (bigger 
then the pros). And it is not because they are better athletes or 
better games; but because of the emotion, the link to the university, 
the link with friends, the pride I feel when I see those colors. I 
enjoy the culture of college sports. The great memories of 6 seasons 
of home games without a loss, but we had a TIE. OHHHH, the evil TIE!! 
You know college football not too long ago had these? And guess what? 
Life went on and we loved our sport nonetheless. That was one of the 
single greatest games I have ever seen, and because we were so far 
behind it felt like a win! 

I have lived most of my life 30 miles from the Daytona International 
Speedway, but have only been to one race (not the 500), and still 
could care less about NASCAR. Our country is at the tops with 
technology but we only have one Formula 1 race in our country, we 
prefer going in circles in less complicated machines. Maybe it is 
because you can bring beer to the races.

Don´t mistake scoring with action, or lack thereof. No commercials or 
time outs and if you leave the game you don´t come back, or you sit 
injured off the field until you can run back on. A foul is called and 
the game resumes in seconds without a formal announcement via a 
microphone from the referee. The game barely stops, it more pauses. 
The players run miles, and are top notch athletes, they barely stop or 
walk the whole game. Yes, I have my problems with football too, 
especially the flopping and acting and general lack of intestinal 
fortitude (you don´t see rugby players crying so much.)

Our kids play soccer and we think it is great exercise but don´t 
really get it, we think the ball is out when it touches the line and 
cannot come to terms with offsides (but we can understand what a 
nickel package is). Ever sit through a 21-14 American Football game 
and say how boring it was? Isn´t that really 3-2 ? How about a 7-3 
game? No, a great defensive struggle it was….

Many Americans do not GET futbol, football, soccer- because we do not 
have a cultural heritage of the sport, we do not have the history, and 
we don´t have an emotional tie. We did not get up at 9am in college to 
drink beer for the big soccer match. We don´t remember where we were 
when Maradona or Péle scored THAT goal. We probably think Maradona is 
a typo for Madona. MLS is nice but it is in its infancy stages, and 
has nothing on the passion of the Euro leagues and their fanfare, and 
quality. Maybe it will one day, or maybe it will always just be a 
domestic training ground and AAA league for Europe.

A great thing about the USA is there are lots of other sports at the 
pro and college level to choose from, so if World Cup is not your cup 
of tea, if not even for the drama of this event that happens just once 
every 4 years and involves countries from 6 continents (Australia 
qualified this year), change the darn channel! As far as lack of 
action or comparative scoring, truly think about that. How much real 
action is in a baseball game besides on the pitching mound and in the 
batters box? How much of American football is just strategy and 
planning for 5 second bursts? And nobody truly likes a tie, which is 
why in the next round there are NO ties in the World Cup. How about 
cheering for the good ole stars and stripes underdog team which 
shocked Italy with a TIE, labelled by some as one of our best 5 games 
of all time? If for nothing else, cheer for the fact that France is 
doing so poorly (wink wink France), the same way Scots cheer for 
whoever is playing England!

Andrew Kester, PE
Lake Mary, FL, USA (c/o the Canary Islands)

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