In the summer of 1982 Beirut was under siege by the Israeli army. People were scared; they were hungry and as the days passed they were growing increasingly desperate. In the summer of ’82, the streets of Beirut were often empty… except for the occasional time people would come out of their shelters to get supplies. But sometimes they would also get out to take the batteries out of their cars before they ran back inside. Other than that the streets were empty, the buildings seemed uninhabited … well, except for the occasional daredevil who came out to position a long metal object at the angle the screaming people from inside would agree upon.
When there was no bombing the streets grew eerily quiet up until the moment a certain spherical object, a quarter of the globe away, was kicked into a very specific net.
This sort of magical event would, for a small burst of time, lift some of the desperation as the streets of Beirut would roar “Gooooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallllllll !!!!!!!!!” at their car-battery powered TV’s.
No wonder they call it the beautiful game.
My friend, Walid’s memories of the siege of Beirut come to mind often when there is a Championship game on TV.
Why we love football? I never used to like football. Before I met my fiancé, Johnny, the only sport I might have watched on TV was a basketball game.
The reasons why I tolerated a basketball game when I wouldn’t a football game are simple: 1- It is easy to remember who’s who when there are five players on each team, 2- there is instant gratification at each basket win and there are many baskets during a game, 3- unlike football not all baskets/goals are equal in points.
I watched basketball for the baskets, if I had to, so football with its one, two or three goals (if you are lucky) felt like watching paint dry.
To say Johnny is a football fanatic, would be an exaggeration, but he was invested enough in the game, but also in me liking the game. That’s an understatement, he made me love the game.
He taught me how to watch it.
I learned first of all the game is not about the goals. It is about the play, it is about strategy, it’s about mental and physical endurance. It is also about the history behind each game, each team or club, each player and coach. Each game has the potential of making history, and once you know that, football can never be boring.
Watching football games regularly, is like watching a series, like a sort of reality TV program but without the nonsense that comes with it. You have your leads and the sort of background characters. On the field each player brings his past and his future on the line. You want to see them prove themselves, you want them to be champions. Sometimes they fall. When they win it all, you are the champion, you are the winner. When they lose, you feel like the fallen warrior. I have seen grown men cry because of a football game. –Not Johnny, just felt like mentioning that –
Why I love football? The reasons are simple.
You don’t need money to play it. There are not too many equipment required, just shoes and a ball. Then again, I ‘ve seen kids with no shoes with a soda- can playing football.
Football also can involve many people, a whole neighborhood can play in a single game.
Each goal is a triumph no matter the score.
I don’t imagine myself play football for fun, ever. I don’t like scrapped knees. I like watching it and following up on the careers of the favorites on each team.
Another reason I like watching is because I see the players as the select few who made their wishes come true. When they were young, I wonder if people laughed at them when they said they wanted to be professional football players. Even those who you are only a bit familiar with their names, are living their dream. In their way they can bring inspiration.
If some of us can fulfill their dreams, why can’t we all?