Thursday, May 5, 2016

122. A note at the end of the season

A note to Dave, a friend of mine and avid Premiere League fan.

Dear Dave,

As I listen to one of the final Men in Blazers podcasts for the year, I can’t help but be a little bit sad.

I am thinking back to May of 2009, when we were in South Africa and we watched whatever leagues were on TV. One of the first Premier League games I remember watching was an Arsenal one. The one where Aubrey Arshavin scored four goals in one match. I don’t remember much else from that season.

I do remember wandering around the markets by our flats and purchasing random jerseys. I loved how exotic the names sounded: Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelseas. However, I didn’t realize Peter Crouch was a giraffe until after I bought his jersey. I also got a South Africa national team jersey and a Soweto Pirates jersey (I thought that was actually the best one.) I remember Gary poking his head in every so often to comment on the games. Even though we knew how smart he was, I always thought we underrated his prowess with just about everything.

I watched the World Cup games in the ensuing years with interest, but didn’t pay much attention to soccer outside of those games. I know you asked me a few times if I had listened to Men in Blazers. I didn’t get into them until the start of the 2014-15 season. and I regret it.

I know we’ve both become a bit cynical about Minnesota sports. It’s been pretty easy to not care about them: the continued unfulfilled potential of the Minnesota Timberwolves; the nice, but rarely great seasons of the Twins; and the gaudiness of the Minnesota Vikings (and the Wild, I guess.)

There’s something about the Premier League though that makes me excited about sports again. I think it might be because there are times when it feels like I’m in on a great story that only a few other people know about. Or maybe it’s the exotic names, or just the sheer size of the whole thing (the cups, the tournaments, the number of games on at any one time on Saturday).

Or maybe it’s just because I want to be in on what Rog and Davo are talking about on the Pod. Nine times out of 10, I’m skeptical of clubs or groups, but these guys seem different. They find joy in what they’re doing. (Rog’s laments now withstanding.) Deep down they enjoy themselves, and I like to think I flock to people who have found what they enjoy in life.

And there are the Foxes. Even though you and I support different clubs that Leicester, it’s hard not to root for them. If you’re booing 5,000-to-1 odds, you probably weren’t loved enough as a child. There’s a lazy route to examine life through the prism of a game, but it’s hard not to in this instance. It’s literally the longest odds in history. The whole season gives me hope. Money is not the kingmaker. Past performance is not indicative of future results and pizza is still a great motivator.

With my love towards Minnesota sports ebbing and flowing, it’s nice to have my curiosity and interest piqued by a league thousands of miles away.

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