Wednesday, February 23, 2005

I learned something last night, which sort of awoke issues...

I learned something last night, which sort of awoke issues I’ve had for most of my life.
When I was a boy I was always the last person, okay sometimes second last with the big fat kid going last, to be chosen when selecting squads to play intramural or class sports in school. I always hated it because my personality was one of those “little engine that can” types and I really wanted to do well even at sports. When I got to High School the whole thing started to become totally absurd and I quickly realized that sports was not going to be a big highlight in my life in terms of team games anyway. I quickly turned my attention to reading what ever book I could lay my hands on and also like so many athletes drugs - no I’m not bitter – it’s a joke – I like Barry Bonds. As it were, I buried sports and put my head into reading Aldus Huxley for which I could excel in.

When I had children, I encouraged them to be good Spartans and participate in sports thinking something along the lines of, healthy body’s healthy minds. Both my kids played soccer with my son playing very competitive soccer traveling all over our province to play. At that time, I was encouraged to both assist and finally coach some teams because of my knowledge of the game of soccer, which my now deceased grandfather had instilled in me as a young man. I was a big soccer lover who supported only one team and that was the Dutch National Squad for World Cups – Oranje Boven. That was good because as you may know World Cup only happens every four years so I didn’t have to preoccupy myself with too much sport except for a month every four years. Then I’d get out my orange shirt and raise the Netherlands flag up the pole for the games. If Holland won, I’d be happy, if they came in second I’d be happy, if they lost I’d be disappointed but hold onto the hope that they would do better next time.

Then came a change. Before the last few years, we really wouldn’t get much soccer on television here in North America but for large tournaments like Euro or World Cups. Now suddenly because of cable/satellite I could watch almost every soccer match on all 3 of the five continents – Europe, South, and North America. English soccer being the easiest and most widely broadcast of them all. I had always loved my Dutch team and a few of the players were actually playing for English squads, my favourite being Denis Bergkamp and Marc Overmaars who were with Arsenal FC in London, UK. As a result, I started to become an Arsenal fan. Last year I got totally sucked in and what a time to be sucked in as Arsenal went on to set history by not losing a game during the season carrying the streak to this season going with 49 unbeaten matches. Wow, they won the English Premiere League Cup 2003-04. This year has been up and down but Arsenal still have a good chance of coming in second place as the lead seems to be running away with Chelsea FC.

What have I learned then? Well damn when you cathect with a sports team you live and die with that team on the field. I can’t believe the gauntlet of emotion that jocks have to go through when watching your team win or loose. As an art student the joke was always stated as follows, we’d be in the studio painting and the football team would be looking in at us as fairy artists but we’d be looking out watching men slap each other’s asses and hugging wondering whom the fairy was. So now suddenly at fifty I have become one of those guys that is glued to every Arsenal game and reading every report I can on the internet about the team even going so far as to join the membership of the club and writing the occasional article for various blogs and forums on the team.

Well last night I died a horrible death as Arsenal were schooled by Bayern Munich FC to a 3 to 1 victory. Ouch, my body actually slumped in the chair, my blood sugars were excessively high with the stress, and I was decimated. I can’t say I liked it and now I know why so many jocks are also alcoholics because damn I wanted to hit the beer bong in a big way and try to alleviate the pain. So 40 years ago I couldn’t be picked for a team and I ended up benefiting from it as it forced me to read and actually do something I’m actually good at in art. Now some 40 years later it’s come back to phuck me up. What’s with that? I mean why does it hurt so much to vicariously live out meaning based on stuffing a globe or orb into a hole or in this case the onion bag otherwise known as goal. I literally felt as though my best friends had just died. I can’t believe it has aroused such sentiment out of me a person who for most of life didn’t give a tinkers damn about sports, if I didn’t hate them because they always got money where as the arts got few in comparison. I’ll be curious to see where this takes me? What I’ll walk away with from this experience? Just now, my head feels rather large from the few pints of Boddingtons I did drink. Therefore, I’ll be sure to let you know when I do know and in the meantime, I’m off to to read WTF happened to my team.

One thing I’m kinda wondering about is why artists can’t have that kind of support. You know he paints he scores another masterpiece – oh well in an other world maybe.

Anyway here is a picture from the match which tells you how I felt: it is of Arsenals Coach Arsene Wenger and his assistant Pat Rice on the bench. (I borrowed the image from

Bayern Munichen 3 - Arsenal 1



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