Saturday, January 2, 2016


One of the greatest joys of my last year has been watching soccer. I have spent upwards of six hours in front of a television watching Premier League games (this English soccer league) on
Saturdays. I like the continuous action. I like the long stretches of play that build up into a goal. I like that there are no commercials. I like the Brit announcers.

What's fueled my interest the most though is the Men in Blazers. They are the podcasting/television duo Roger Bennett (Rog) and Michael Davies (Davo). They are a droll duo who present the stories of the Premier League (as well as the rest of world soccer) with a light hearted, self-deprecating approach, but they also keep provide keen analysis that makes you want to keep following the games.

They employ a number of catchphrases ("Crap", "Suboptimal", "JOINK") that I have since began use in text messages. They like to blame the "Premier League scriptwriters" for the twists and turns in the narrative of the league. They have that mixture of humor and insight that I feel is sorely lacking in so much sports coverage.

One of the best moments of my day comes on Wednesdays when their podcast (“pod”) drops. I love the moment when they make some sort of joke that only a fan of the program (GFOP -- Great Friend of Pod) would understand and I smile. I’m usually listening to it as I walk around the skyway. It’s fun to grin when most people’s emotions are inscrutable.

The real story here might be why I got interested in soccer again in August of 2014 at age 26 after not showing much of an interest in it since I stopped playing at age 17.

I had just moved to Marshall, Minnesota after two years in Boston. The move disoriented me. It was a new, small town. I had to work an unconventional schedule. I didn’t have too many friends in town. I had taken in the World Cup that summer and I was intrigued.

Multiple people had told me about Men in Blazers, so I thought I’d take a look. I saw that their games were on Saturday mornings, which was pretty much the only time I had available to watch sports.

While my Marshall roommates ribbed me for “watching jogging”, I didn’t mind. I started playing fantasy soccer and furiously text friends while the games went on. It became the highlight of my week. I didn’t want to schedule things during that time for fear of interrupting my games.

Everybody has a team that they follow. I chose Tottenham Hotspur. Mainly because my friend Jer also liked them. I also liked their logo and their name. (That’s good enough, right?)

Soccer is something that gives me joy. I like the games, but I actually like the entire narrative of the games even more. The games, the managers, and even the players seem to matter on a global level. (I mean probably everywhere, but America.)

I’m watching the Manchester United vs. Swansea game as I write this. It’s Saturday morning and I have a cup of coffee on the table next to me. It feels good to find your happy place.

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