It was a crisp fall day in 2015. I was having chicken nuggets with my brothers-in-law because that’s what my niece was eating and my niece makes the rules.
They were talking about some player in some sport doing some incredible thing and didn’t I think it was incredible? I had to remind them that I didn’t watch sports. I was the person who, when I played it in high school, regularly called football practice “rehearsal.”
For me, sports were either boring and slow (looking at you baseball), or brief flashes of violence interrupted by commercials for beer (hi, football). As far as I was concerned, professional sports reminded me less of “Field of Dreams” and more of this:
Then my brother-in-law, Matt, uttered the words that changed me forever.
Now, four years later, I’m a super fan. I’m a guy who puts a sticker of Calvin peeing on the Packers logo on his truck, but for soccer. I’ve seen Team USA (the men, not the kick-ass women, unfortunately) play at Allianz Field. I’ve had one game going on my tv while another plays on my laptop. I’ve purchased jerseys and hats and key rings and onesies for my kid. My wife and I even made it to London to visit our team’s stadium.
Soccer is the best sport in the world. Actually, fuck that. It’s football.
Know why? Because they kick a ball with their foot. What we call “football” is a game where people spend the majority of the time throwing or cradling a ball while they run. The only reason I can think for America calling this game “football” and calling football “soccer” is because we generally think we’re hot shit and can do whatever we want. If you need another example: freedom fries. Which weren’t even French in the first place. The Belgians created them, dipshits.
Anyway, it’s the best sport in the world, and it’s the best sport for an American to watch. Period. And I have five ways to prove it.
It’s on in the morning. You drink coffee and watch your team and then it’s over and you have the whole rest of your day and evening to do other stuff.
If you miss a game and have to record it to watch later, nobody will spoil the result for you in America because nobody in America watches it.
You get to learn a whole new lexicon. Pitch. Nil. Nutmeg. Brace. Seriously, how fun is that shit?
They play for 45 minutes, take a 15-minute break (note how I stopped myself from saying ‘intermission’ there) and then play another 45. One commercial break in the whole game. Contrast that with how the last two minutes of a football game can take three weeks to complete.
The goal celebrations are insane. This one player on Arsenal, my team? Each time he scores a goal he does a fucking front flip. Unless, of course, he decides instead to RUN BEHIND THE GOAL, FIND THE BAG HE HID THERE, PULL OUT THE MASK HE STUFFED IN THE BAG AND STRIKE A POSE AS FUCKING BLACK PANTHER.
For real. What more do you need to know? The Premier League season (my favorite European league) starts Friday, August 9th. you have two days to pick the team you want to follow from the start.
Although, the season doesn’t end until May 17th, so there’s plenty of time to become a fan. That’s right, a season that’s nine-and-a-half months long.
Looks like I just found reason number 6.
Please note that the above reasons — and this whole post — treat the MLS as if it doesn’t exist. That’s because I find watching the MLS like watching double A ball compared to the talent in the European leagues. But also because it messes up this whole “smug expat-who-is-still-a-pat” vibe I’ve got going here.