Learning about Soccer

Getting married is an event fraught with life-lessons.  Some lessons are expected [like how to file joint taxes] and some are unexpected [like how to make calzones – who knew it was so complicated!].

I married a guy who loves soccer. He really loves soccer. Don’t worry – I know he loves me more, though, because on October 6, 2012 he married me instead of watching the Chelsea game.

At our wedding my brother [another soccer-lover] gave me a book, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Soccer” along with a book about the history of Chelsea FC [that’s my husband’s favorite team]. I haven’t read either book yet [sorry Mark], but I have watched about 1,000 soccer games. That’s how many Chelsea plays in a season, right?

I always thought the game was relatively simple. Get the ball in the goal more times than the other team. Alas. I was wrong: I know about the off-side rule now. Apparently it’s a moving line, but not on the side-line, as it’s name always seemed to imply. I also know that Barcelona players dive a lot and we don’t like them because they mob the ref and whine. Turns out that being a soccer fan is a complex thing.

I know that soccer games happen [on American tv] at 7am, 11am, and 2:45pm. Except when they don’t. Like on Sundays. And on Special Days. And any day that I think I can predict when a game is scheduled.

I know that there are lots of cups and championships that teams compete in. I know about “aggregate scores” and “away goals” and that Luis Suarez bit Branislav Ivanovic and got a 10 match ban. I even sometimes know when fouls happen.

I have learned lots of things. I hope that my husband is impressed. One day I even knew who the commentators were without seeing their names come up on the screen!

When you watch a particular team a lot and learn the players’ names and characteristics it’s easy to become attached to them and to follow not only the games but the twitter account, and the fan page, and to wear their shirt on “Spirit Day” at school. I should get a shirt in my size for next season.

There is one very important rule that I accidentally broke on Sunday. My brother’s team has been doing quite badly lately and, after their 0-6 defeat this weekend I asked my husband, “So, if your team is doing badly for a long time, do you ever start to look around for a new team to support?” My brother and husband both responded with icy glares and horrified gasps. Apparently you stick with your team through thick and thin. I hope I’ve chosen wisely.

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