Friday, July 21, 2006

Becoming a Fan of Real Football

I miss the World Cup, don't you?

I really enjoyed that glimpse into the world of soccer, and I think I'm hooked. To help me deal with post-World-Cup withdrawal symptoms, I've been looking into other teams. Did you know there is a pro soccer league right here in the U.S.? Me neither. It's called "MLS" (that's Major League Soccer, not Multiple Listing Service).

What's more, there are two MLS teams right here in Texas: FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo. Picking which of those to root for was easy: I went with the one whose city isn't an armpit (that means Dallas, just in case you're not familiar with Houston). So I'll be dragging the family to a game at FC Dallas' shiny new soccer-specific stadium (regrettably called Pizza Hut Park) in the next month or two.

Meanwhile, I found out via this guy's marketing advice to U.S. Soccer that Bill Simmons, ESPN's Sports Guy, has found a lot to like in soccer, too. He explains in some detail in his column, Why I Loved The World Cup.
These games feel like life or death. No, really. When the Colombian defender was murdered after 1994's World Cup, the stakes were set: Screw up and you may die. You can see it on everyone's face. After Argentina's OT goal, the shell-shocked coach of Mexico looked as if he'd gotten a terminal diagnosis from his doctor. I half expected him to start hastily scribbling a will. For most of the countries involved, soccer is the equivalent of baseball + football + basketball here, if those sports came around only one month every four years.

Then, in a recent reader chat a reader said, "I loved the World Cup, and am thinking about continuing to follow soccer through the English Premier League. How can I pick a team to root for and remain a somewhat-principled sports' fan when I know nothing about England?" He replied:
Intriguing question, I have been wondering the same thing. I was thinking about just picking the team that Michael Davies hates the most, just for comedy's sake, but that's too easy. If anyone wants to make the case for an English premier team for me, e-mail me. I might make the leap. Soccer's growing on me, you don't have to pay attention, it's easy to follow, no sideline reporters, no commercials, no annoying announcers, the crowds are fantastic ... there's a lot to like.

After that offhand statement, he received more than 4,000 emails full of advice of who to pick (or who not to pick), and he embarked on an extensive research project of his own. He summarizes his findings and decision-making process in this enormously long column. I won't ruin the surprise for you - you'll have to click through to the second page to find out his selection.

And with all that research conveniently done for me, why not pick an EPL team, myself? Okay... let's see. Here we go: despite what Simmons says ("Someone from America can't casually become a Liverpool fan") I'll casually become a Liverpool fan. The main reasons: first, we liked Peter Crouch on the England national team (according to Simmons, Crouch is their "goofy-looking, 6-foot-7 striker... who's nicknamed "Bambi on Ice" and does the "Robot" after goals"), and second, Echo & The Bunnymen - my wife's favorite band (where "favorite" means "absolutely all-consuming obsessive love that hits about 11.5 on a scale of 1 to 10") - are from Liverpool and are therefore of course huge fans, too.

FC Dallas, and Liverpool - I'm in!


At 9:31 AM, Blogger WnotW said...

Coincidence? As I read this my radio station was playing 'In Liverpool' by Suzanne Vega.


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