As you may have noticed by now, I am not a sports fan. I don’t care for running or jumping or throwing or kicking competitions. Nor do I care about the laments or excitement of those around me if they begin gibbering excitedly about sports. I don’t care about professional athletes, and I don’t care about the local bar vs bar soccer or AFL matches. I DO care about injuries that may ensue from these matches, but only because I like to give hugs, and injuries come out very well in photos. So for the last month, I have had a great time chuckling, and at the same time not caring, about the fucking FIFA World Cup.
However, I work with a few people who do care, and they were having a great time bonding over passion for the game, of which I would make fun of. During this time I earned myself the nickname “Princess Tahlia”, in part, I suspect, as a result of my vaguely haughty indifference towards the whole soccer thing. It probably has far more to do with my general demeanour, but that is besides the point.
Anyway…The matches would be played on the television above the door at the bar, which was always funny to watch- many patrons hesitating outside for a few seconds before entry, intimidated by the large group of males staring just above their heads on the other side of the door. It wasn’t until the perceived stand off was shattered by a rousing chorus of “WAHHARRRAHAHAAA”, hands thrown in the air and clapping or booing, that the cold, thirsty people outside realised what was going on and felt brave enough to open the door. It was during these moments I wished I still had a little camcorder.
But then something happened. My complete disinterest subsided, and I started asking my workmates questions. I blame that annoying “need for acceptance within the group” instinct that humans have developed. They were stupid questions, like “How do they decide what colours their uniforms are?” and other such inane shit that probably pissed them off more than my face-pulling and raspberry blowing. I am a soccer n00b fo’ sho. Then I realised people were staying up to watch the 4:30am games, and I found this to be kind of nice. Everyone had a different story attached to their early morning experiences. So then I tried to connect. “Hey buddy, who won the game last night?” At first, this was met with calls of “OHHH so Princess Tahlia likes soccer now”, but any excuse to talk about soccer is embraced whole heartedly, so I would get the full run down, with names of players and everything. I would just stare blankly, smiling and nodding as if they were speaking a different language.
After two weeks of experiencing only pleasantness in the soccer arena (unintentional pun!), I had my first Sunday day shift at the bar. I decided to stick around for a few knock offs and listen to tunes… and before I knew it, it was 3am, the bar was closing, and I heard the all too familiar excited gibbering.
“What? Who’s playing? Tell me everything, I’m half interested, I’m fully drunk, lay it on me.”
Turns out it was the final, Netherlands against Spain. And a bunch of people were converging to watch it. And in my drunken state, decided to watch it. Why not? My very first full length soccer game, projected onto a screen, a full sound system, indoor smoking and a bunch of people I enjoy being around? May as well. Throw in the occasional puff on a special cigarette, and you’ve got yourself a good ol’ fashioned party. So I went for it.
Holy shit. It was just as boring as I expected it to be. It’s like ping pong. NOTHING HAPPENED. I found out later that that particular match was more uninteresting than usual. I guess that’s what happens when your entire country has waited years and years for you to kick a ball into the net more times than the other countries: you get focused with a capital fucking F.
But I sat through the game, having a leisurely lounge on the couch, curling up with my buddy, chatting about the grid of grass, discussing what shade of orange/red spain were wearing (we decided on blood orange), getting confused as to whether it was in fact the Spaniards who were wearing the blood orange, having profound respect for one of the athletes because it was evident he was a member of Iron Maiden as well as a professional soccer player, laughing at all the people in the room who were too wasted to take seriously, yelling at them to be quiet because “I’M TRYING TO WATCH THE SOCCER GUYS”, then laughing even more because no one found that as funny as I did… I was told all about what happens when it runs out of time and no one’s kicked a goal, and I was looking forward to more couch times not paying attention to the match… And then someone kicked a goal. And it was a complete anti-climax. And then the sun was rising, and it was all over.
The next day, all the dejected fans of the loosing Dutch team complained about their wasted month. WELL SUCK IT UP IDIOTS. It’s your own fault for getting involved isn’t it? Even if it’s a funny half-joke between friends, you still sound moronic. The outcome of that match would have been exactly the same as if you hadn’t watched it, and you probably could have had more excitement going out and getting laid than sitting on your couch yelling at the television. But you knew that anyway, didn’t you?
So in conclusion; if I find myself surrounded by a group of people who love soccer during the next world cup (I would say four years from now, but there was that period when Hitler was invading Europe, so the cup got cancelled twice, and that could easily happen again), I will happily watch the final match with them. Otherwise, I will blissfully ignore the whole thing, just like I have every four years before this one. And I resolve never to place a bet on a sporting event ever again, even if it is just two dollars.