By Abby Waysdorf aka louisquatorze
Football, or soccer as I term it to friends and colleagues to make sure they know what I’m talking about, is taking over my sleep. Sleep used to be all-important to this particular college student (university student, as I understand Brits say), but ever since June my weekends have been taken over by trips to a pub a neighborhood and two buses over, or if I’m lucky an 8 AM wakeup to catch Arsenal on my apartment’s recently installed digital cable, which I got specifically for Fox Soccer Channel.
Sundays are a problem, as one of the two buses that go to my preferred pub doesn’t run. If the game isn’t on FSC, my best bet is convincing a friend of mine, nominally Liverpool-supporting thanks to a boyfriend during a study-abroad trip to London, to come out with me. She has a car. She’s great to go with but often unreliable, and while enthusiastic doesn’t quite share my passion. Yet. I’m working on it.
Not that I'm exactly a long-term fan myself. I went into the World Cup this June with vague memories of watching the last one at two in the morning with my little brother, a spring-break tour of the Camp Nou sandwiched in between the Dali museum and Sagrada Familia, and three months in London where I watched the FA Cup final and Eurovision on the same day with delight, having never seen either. I came out of it this July a committed obsessive.
Being an American football fan is an interesting experience, marked by a willful snobbism and a wild idealism, based more often than not on sheer arbitrariness. We pick and choose just about everything. I continue to be fascinated by how my fellow fans get their teams, both club and national, because it's usually fairly indirect and funny. Even the act of becoming a fan is arbitrary, as it automatically sets us apart from the majority. Most of the time, we're not doing it because we were born to it.
Which gives us a fundamentally different mentality, I've noticed. European fandom is local, American fandom is deliberately global. We become fans because we want to be somewhere else, we're sick of being isolated, we want to connect. We want to be part of the world, and the world's game, as football's so often promoted as, is a way in. And since we're generally crap at it, we can go in humble. My hope for any tournament that the US is participating in is for us not to embarrass ourselves, but I always secretly look forwards to when we get knocked out and I can go for something more interesting.Of course, I'm using "we" way too freely, and I'm absolutely certain there are Americans who think differently. The only way to generalize Americans is as contradictory. Even among the subculture of football fans, the only way to generalize is to say that we're going to be tired.