When I woke up this morning, I flipped on my television to see the highlights of the Nuggets and Lakers game, which I missed last night. I was upset to find the Norwich City v. Arsenal game – er, match – on my set. (I found out later I was on the wrong channel.)
I am no soccer fan. But since receiving a Manchester United jersey from my father last weekend before the Manchester Derby, I decided that maybe now was the time to find a team and learn more about the league(s?).
I made myself watch the entire Norwich City v. Arsenal match. I went into it thinking that it would end up like almost every other soccer game I had watched to this point (save World Cup matches) by me changing the station or turning the television off entirely out of boredom.
However, I found myself glued to the match. I even took my computer downstairs to the dining hall and stayed put until the conclusion of the match. The game was captivating.
Therefore, in honor of the first six goals I witnessed in my first day as a soccer fan (the match ended in a 3-3 draw), here are six things I learned watching soccer.
1.) More “serious” injuries happen in soccer than in any other sport. This is one reason I dislike watching soccer. On nearly every play there is someone falling down writhing in “pain” after a “foul.” (Commonly known as “flopping.”) What bugs me more is that flopping is invading the sports I have always enjoyed watching. Hardly any of the player control fouls (charges) called in basketball are full-contact. Now, even NFL players are faking injury as part of game strategy. Remember the Giants’ Deon Grant’s sudden injury and rapid recovery against the driving St. Louis Rams last season. Let us hope that the flopping ceases sometime soon.
2.) Soccer players have miserable hair. Arsenal’s Robin van Persie looks as if his hair never made it out of the third grade. His teammate, Abou Diaby, has some sort of dreadlocked combover. Should we even get into Alex Song’s wig?
Arsenal’s Robin van Persie, celebrates with teammate Arsenal’s Abou Diaby after scoring against Norwich City, during their English Premier League soccer match at Emirates stadium in London, Saturday, May 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Bogdan Maran)
Norwich City’s Wes Hoolahan (L) challenges Arsenal’s Alex Song during their English Premier League soccer match at Emirates Stadium in London May 5, 2012. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett
3.) Soccer players have great names. Yes, his hair is woefully hideous, but how cool is the name “Alex Song”?
4.) Soccer players are not the best athletes in the world (basketball players are), but they are the best conditioned. In an athletic skills test, I will take LeBron James over almost any soccer player out there. However, the sheer level of conditioning of soccer players is magnificent. The amount of running done in one match would put me in my bed for a few days.
5.) Watching soccer makes me feel pretentious. This dawned upon me as I sat with my legs crossed watching the match, eating a parfait and sipping a hot beverage. Watching soccer while wearing a retro powder blue LaDanian Tomlinson Chargers jersey and sweatpants makes me feel less pretentious. This is fairly self-explanatory. And I was drinking coffee. At least it wasn’t tea.
6.) I think I can become a soccer fan. Most of all, this match was fun to watch. I never thought I could get excited about a draw in any sport, but this game kept me on the edge of my seat. I’m excited to watch the other matches this week when I can. And now that I have a Manchester United jersey, I have a vested interest. Who knows? This could be my gateway sport into liking hockey as well. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Bottom line, I enjoyed watching a soccer match today and I hope to enjoy more of the same in the future.