It’s 7 AM on a Saturday morning, and my day is already ruined. How is this possible, you might ask? It’s a Saturday, we have no school, what could possibly have put me in such a bad mood this early? Well, it’s because I watch the Premier League, and my favorite team has just lost. […]
It’s 7 AM on a Saturday morning, and my day is already ruined. How is this possible, you might ask? It’s a Saturday, we have no school, what could possibly have put me in such a bad mood this early?
Well, it’s because I watch the Premier League, and my favorite team has just lost. Again.
The Premier League is England’s top soccer league, and the team I support, Leeds United, is currently in second to last and in danger of being dropped into the second league for next season.
I’m not the only person at CB who suffers from this strange affliction. Talon Moderator Mr. Dave Anderson ‘07 is also miserable beside me. His team, Everton, are just barely out of the relegation places at the moment, and he also spends his Saturday mornings more often than not staring at the TV with his head in his hands.
But it really could be worse, I guess. We could be Gabe Eshleman (‘23). “I played for a Tottenham sponsored team, so I got all the old jerseys and just became a fan through that.” Unfortunately, Tottenham have a reputation of being the biggest chokers in the entire league and are following their yearly tradition of getting into a good position and then blowing it all in the last few games. Gabe originally had a lot of optimism about this year’s season, only for his team to disappoint him yet again.
“We’ve had as many managers as we’ve had wins in the last six weeks,” he says despondently.
Other CB students and teachers, however, have been much luckier with the teams they choose to support. Jack Bergfeld (‘23) is a fan of Manchester City, who just clinched their fifth championship in six seasons. One might then accuse him of being a bandwagon fan, which I did do. Jack vehemently disagrees with me, saying that he’s been a fan “since [Mario] Balotelli was playing!”
Which, since Mario Balotelli played for Manchester City from 2010 to 2013, I guess means he isn’t a bandwagon. However, his club is still under investigation for breaking a bunch of rules about spending too much money, so it’s just not one you want to support.
Longtime CB teachers Mr. Michael Hood and Mr. Larry Reel ‘91 are fans of Liverpool and Manchester United, respectively, and their teams are currently in a fight for the final place in next year’s Champions League. While Mr. Reel got into Manchester United by playing soccer, following Manchester bands, and watching on “May 15, 1991, when Manchester United beat Barcelona in the European Cup Winners Cup,” Mr. Hood took a more unorthodox route into the Premier League fandom.
“My brother-in-law was a big soccer fan and every time I watched the World Cup I wanted to watch more,” he reminisces. “So I went through all the clubs generally and then decided on my brother-in-law’s club, which was Liverpool.”
But by now, both of them have been hooked on soccer to the exact same degree.
“Soccer’s like no other sport,” Mr. Hood adds. “It doesn’t happen like this anywhere else.”
However, being a fan of an English league in America doesn’t come without its challenges.
“The worst part is you can’t go see any games [in person],” admits Jack. “It would be sick to go to a game.”
Another issue, says Mr. Reel, is that “the Premier League plays mostly day games, so that’s early rising for most games.”
“They’re like 5 in the morning — I get up at 2:30 in the morning sometimes to watch games,” adds Gabe with a laugh. “I cannot tell you how many times I’ve woken my mom up screaming at the game.”
But if you ask any of us, we’ll tell you watching good soccer is worth the challenges that come with it. Soccer is a special sport, one that creates memories that last for a lifetime. Mr. Reel still remembers the exact date he went to Manchester to watch a game.
“April 23, 2008.” He remembers with a fond smile. “Going to Old Trafford, watching United beat Liverpool 3-0, watching Ronaldo, Nani, and Wes Brown grab goals against Liverpool, sitting and singing in the Stretford End, that’s probably the highlight highlight.”
Gabe fondly recalls watching “Lucas Moura’s hat trick in the Champions League Semifinal against Ajax,” saying that it was “one of the best experiences he’s ever had.”
Soccer, especially the Premier League, is growing in the United States, and with that growth comes more opportunities to find a community of people who share the same interest. Mr. Hood says that his favorite memory is when he “watched the Champions League, when we won it, in a bar, with my buddy, filled with Liverpool fans, that was great. I was a part of something.”
The feeling to be a “part of something,” as Mr. Hood puts it, is something that all of us chase. It’s why Mr. Reel so happily remembers his experience at Old Trafford. Soccer is just one of the best ways in the world to feel connected to other people — that’s why they call it The Beautiful Game.
So even if you haven’t really ever thought about soccer, I ask you to give watching the Premier League a try. The stories are as compelling as any book, the stars are as bright as any night sky, and every once in a while, soccer will give you that magical moment that you will remember for the rest of your life.