Saturday, February 09, 2008

Fever Pitch

Okay, not "better than ever" but back all the same.

My first full day in Dublin wasn’t supposed to be like this. But here I am, sick in bed at the bed & breakfast, watching the Sunderland v Wigan match secluded in our little room. No big deal, though. I’m happily out in the world again, where watching or attending a match is routine… just like catching a tackleball, basketball or baseball game is back home in the States. While seated in a shitty, overpriced bar at the Newark International Airport just before closing, there was a table crowded with a bunch of American soccer fans heading overseas as well. Exclamations of “Fulham” and “fuckin’ Dempsey” boomed across the room. I quietly shared in their excitement and thought to myself that yes, we (as in American soccer supporters) are slowly and furtively winning the battle of hearts and mind in our country. Many of the reactionaries in the mainstream American sports press would love for you to think that the battle was lost or better yet, that there isn’t one even being waged. But when I look and hear dudes like that (and they were truly “dudes”), I know that the roots of soccer in the US are strengthening.

Speaking of how the culture of soccer is slowly gaining hold in America, last weekend I spent Saturday afternoon watching Barcelona v Osasuna in rural Georgia (smack down in Bulldog country) with my mother-in-law, a rabid college football fan (Auburn in particular). She loved it, and though I don’t think she’ll be relinquishing her allegiance to tackleball anytime soon (not that she has to or anything), I think the sport gained yet another convert.

Anyway, I digress. And frankly, now’s the time to simply indulge in the ordinariness of having football culture surrounding me.

We arrived in Dublin from Atlanta on Friday. Once I found out that Keane’s lads were playing on television, I made prospective plans to venture to some Irish local and catch the game with like-minded souls, Sunderland being Ireland’s unofficial fave Premiership club.

Alas, it was not to be. Sure, I would’ve loved to have been standing, sitting or slouched in some pub watching the gritty and intermittently entertaining on-field play instead of lying in bed clammy, phlegmy, and doozy from my cold and that full Irish breakfast I managed to wolf down. But there will be other matches down the line to suffer through via television or in the flesh.

Okay, enough of my ramblings. My thoughts will… hopefully… get more focused as my cold abates and we start catching some matches in person.

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