|A grown man, and millionaire, not getting his way.|
One of the things six years of living in the UK has given me is the full-bellied confidence to admit that I don't like soccer. I've mentioned this before, and as I said then "Watching professional soccer in Europe is just 90 minutes of guys struggling to compensate for their male insecurities by chasing a ball, getting angry at nothing, and faking injury."
So, really, it is not that I necessarily dislike the game of soccer (though, I do find it a little boring) but those who play it on a professional level. And specifically I do not like the players of the Premier League. Indeed, I feel "do not like" isn't a strong enough phrase. Detest. Abhor. Feel enraged by. Want to see injured and forced into real jobs.
When I first moved to Her Majesty's United Kingdom, I never would have admitted such a thing, of course. I professed an interest in the game because I wanted to fit in as a true Briton, and had led myself to believe that love of "football" was a nonelective part of the process. I learned players' names; I forced myself to not be annoyed by the tedious adirectional track meets that are scoreless games; I pretended I cared about Cristiano Ronaldo and whoever the hell else -- I have since blanked most of the names from my memory.
But Britain is a dynamic place and there is room for those who don't give a damn about the delicacy of some bloke's ankle, nor why his ability to run fast and kick a ball gives him carte blanche to be an insufferable drinkbox. As a matter of fact, it appears the room for such detractors of the beautiful game is increasing these days.
This week, both the Guardian and the Independent have had stories noting a certain backlash against Premier League players in light of the goodwill and general sportsmanship displayed during the recent Olympic Games. This fills me with glee.
Obviously, I should be mature and just not care either way -- much as is my attitude toward cricket. I have no idea whether its players are assholes, because I pay absolutely no attention to it. And, for the most part, I am that way toward soccer. But I think what annoys me is that there still exists this sense that I should care, that it is really important that I swear my undying allegiance to a shirt. Because, essentially, that's all it is: your shirt against my shirt.
The people wearing the shirts don't actually give a damn, and will happily put on another shirt for the right price. The people who own the shirts also don't give a damn, and will happily change the shirts' colours to suit their mood. Professional soccer is like the worst-imaginable housing bubble: a ridiculous thing floating on a huge, great nothingness that, despite its total lack of foundation, is important to people's lives.
I feel deeply sad for the soccer fans who continue to shell out their money -- like faithful dogs -- for an entity that doesn't care about them at all, an entity that in certain ways mistreats them. And I feel deeply angry toward those entities for abusing their supporters, and the municipalities in which those supporters live.