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Why Football?

I often get asked about how I managed to fall in love with football. As a white female living in America, especially Southern California, with zero interest from my extended family, and having never played, I don’t know if I could be a bigger outlier in the traditional football loving demographic. And it’s not just something I chose to do to be different, either. It’s something I am incredibly passionate about, something I think about all day every day. So why football?

A game as simple as it is intense

You can read about my actual football conversion, but today I wanted to focus on the game itself. Like why I made time to watch as many Euro matches as I could recently, but only happened upon game seven of the NBA finals by accident, more than halfway through, and barely even looked up to watch it. I used to be such a massive Lakers and NBA fan, too. Growing up, it was something I did with my dad. And I played a bit in Jr. High, too. I used to love basketball. But now it bores me.

A big part of my love lost for the NBA is that they stretch 48 minutes of playing time over two and a half hours. It’s start-stop-sub in-start-stop, etc. Same goes for the NFL, only I read somewhere that of the time the ball is actually in play, it’s really only about 11 minutes, and games typically last for three hours. I never liked baseball, but the average MLB game is three hours, with some games lasting closer to an eternity. For a country who has to have access to everything 24/7 and fast food is never fast enough, Americans sure do like to waste time watching commercials and getting updates on players’ shoelaces, etc. But the time wasted in between plays is only the beginning for me.

Football brings families together like no other sport

I fell in love with football because it is poetry in motion. And that motion not only goes nonstop for two forty-five minute halves, but it requires fit players. Not the biggest or strongest or the most domination, but players who are fast, have massive stamina, and are both intelligent and skilled. (And by intelligent, I mean football IQ. Actual intelligence is less common, of course.) They don’t wear protective gear or sit on the bench for two hours. They don’t take time outs to sit and be coached about what is happening or reminded of plays or given any information from an observer of the game. They step out onto the pitch and it’s like playing chess in a racecar while running for 45 minutes at a time. Sometimes in the rain or other very poor conditions. It’s truly incredible if you think about it.

Football won my heart because of the passion. Not that the other athletes in other sports are not passionate, but their cheerleaders’ cries of “Go, Fight, Win!” does kind of summarize their overall game plan. But in football, it is a way of expressing one’s self. I noticed recently why I don’t like footballers who play in the MLS or for the US men’s national team. They think too much. They stop, their movements are obviously learned. But in most other professional football, the players move intuitively with the ball, it just comes natural. It is the closest thing to sport as an art form that I know of. It is brutal elegance in motion. And it is such a joy to watch.

Pure, unbridled passion... so beautiful

Then there is the passion of the fans. Absolutely unparalleled in comparison to the American sports I grew up with. I know other sports have some very passionate fans, but few of them live and breathe it the way football fans do. How often have I seen people turn off a big football game, grab a ball, and go outside and play, having been inspired? Meanwhile in America, at the end of the game, fans of other sports are grabbing some more nachos or another beer. Football is more religion, while other sports are mere pastimes.

But why I love football so much is really inexplicable to me. Sure all of the things I listed above are factors. But at the end of the day, I just feel it in my soul. I crave it, I think about it. I probably spend more time thinking about tactics than I do planning meals for my family (sorry, kids. But it’s just food.) I read everything I can about football, and when I’m not actually watching it, I read everything I can about the players, the club, the transfer rumors, and anything and everything else Milan-related. What can I say? I’m obsessed.

It personifies everything good about sport

People ask me “Why football?” And it’s not something I can truly explain. It comes from the inside of me, it’s out of my control. There’s a reason it’s called the beautiful game, and I figured out right away that it isn’t referring to the players. Because for me, more than any other sport in the world, it personifies everything good (and sadly, sometimes also the ugly) about sport. Strength, fitness, endurance, skill, intelligence, and passion. And for me, it is my everything. Why football? Just watch for yourself.

This post inspired by the music of Garbage’s “#1 Crush”