Your Letters & Pictures
Are you a soccer-holic?
I'm always very serious in my news letters, maybe too serious, so this time I'm forcing myself to be lighter.
There are different levels of passion for soccer and generally speaking, almost all insane!
Without mentioning the fanatic acts at the hooligan level, undoubtedly a soccer fan is very different from the fans of other sports.
Even though I know, in general, how a baseball game works, I rarely watch a game and I've gone to the stadium just 2 times in 7 years. I have to recognize that, when you enter a baseball stadium the visual impact if terrific, like the best soccer stadiums. But the enormous difference is the attention that people give to the game or what ever happens on the field.
On a scale from 0 to 100, it's generally less than 10! I was sitting in a very beautiful position and was focus on what was happening on the field while still observing what was going on around me.
People were CONSTANTLY focused on doing these things:
Ordering food and drinks.
Talking about past or future vacations.
Talking about computers and 'a new program that you should absolutely try'.
Talking about what happened at the office before the game.
Talking about the last movie they saw, in every small and insignificant detail.
Talking about the last game or the future game, but absolutely not about this game.
Going to the bathroom during the crucial part of an inning.
Going to the stadium restaurant (during the game) and coming back an hour and a half later, then asking for a complete report about what happened so that everyone misses the next hour and a half.
Arriving when the game has already been going for an hour and leaving an hour before the finish to avoid traffic.
I was astonished. Here's what happens in the rest of the world during a soccer game:
People arrive at least an hour before the start of the game to be sure to be on time.
When the teams enter the field, everyone goes into a kind of trance. They leave daily life behind and the only thing that's happening in the entire world is on the grassy square in the middle of the stadium.
A minimum of 20% of the spectators can't even watch the action (too much stress and emotion) and a friend has to tell them what's happening (I swear it's true!) I've seen hundreds of A.C. Milan games and I never, ever, look at a penalty kick in favor, or much much worse, against.
When a team scores, the word GOOOALLLL yelled in unison, is something that's hard to explain if you've never heard it in a stadium in Europe. It's like something between an earthquake and thunder mixed with joy and relief on one side, and desperation on the other side. People who live in the radius of a mile can clearly hear and the window glass has a curious vibration.
When you stand among 30/40,000 spectators who jump together in unison, you feel the concrete structure flex a few inches. It's something terrifying.
When you hear 50,000 Liverpool fans singing altogether "You'll Never Walk Alone" it's something unforgettable.
Here's what happens if we (O.K. I confess, I'm one of them) watch our team's games on TV at home.
We wear our A.C. Milan shirts.
We stand if the game is international and when the national anthem is played, we sing and cry every time!
The telephone is obviously unplugged.
Food and beer are stocked in the frig as if we're facing the next ice age.
We go to the bathroom 2 or 3 times before the beginning of the game.
We loose our voices every time after only 30 minutes.
Better not to repeat here what is said when the other team scores.
I could continue forever on the list but I think you get the picture and just multiply by 10 if, instead of A.C. Milan it's the National team, The Azzurri, that play.
I'll conclude by saying something fun (but very cruel for me). The ceiling of my apartment is not very high so, every time A.C. Milan or Italy scores, I jump up off the sofa with my arms in the air, fists clenched. Until one month ago, you could still see the blood marks on the ceiling. I was just thinking of adding dates and scores next to each of them, when, without telling me, my wife had the ceiling repainted! Years of glory and suffering, canceled in a few minutes. Life is very cruel.
Posted on 23 Sep 2005 by coachgianni