What I find amusing about Texas weather is that it changes a lot. I mean multiple times a day. I vaguely remember one day in August I checked the weather before going out, and it was a promising 85 with sun shining nice and high. An hour later I get out of this meeting, and it’s fucking pouring down. I’m damn sure they put out flash flood warning for that shit. You could have just floated in your boat and sung those rain songs on your way back home in that much water which collected there in last hour and only God knows how. That was my first encounter with this mood of nature. Everyone around me acted like it was normal.
Me? Hell no.
I just stood there with my eyes wide open staring at the huge drops of water coming down from the gray sky thinking about what in the fuck am I going to do now without an umbrella.
Truth be told, it didn’t turn out to be a good day. I’m not a big fan of multiple showers a day. I barely get on with the required one. And that gray sky, it pisses me off. You can’t go out, and that alone restricts me to do stuff. Do stuff. Something. Anything. That’s what I do. All the time. And the rain basically told me, hey you, fuck off. And I’m just sitting there sipping my coffee listening to an intelligently picked mellow music playlist specially curated for rainy days in my room running out of ideas to DO stuff. I never liked being restricted.
I like my freedom. I like my options open most of the times. And I get it that you can’t always have whatever you wish for, but most of the times, I just need the freedom to think and act on. That’s pretty much what I desire from people around me. And from life overall. But rain devoid me of that freedom. Unless you give me a soccer ball and couple of humans. Then I’m the happiest kid in the world.
But this story here is far from being a happy story. It’s not going to be pretty, or colorful, or even have a happy ending after all the bullshit. There’s no doodling with crayons. Yeah, the movies lied to you. As of now, it doesn’t even have an ending. Because shit seems to keep going on and on. Forever and ever. And for as long as the shit keeps going on, there will be a writer bored out of his fucking mind writing about it.
Because somebody gotta entertain, ain’t that true? So be it. I’ll keep writing, and you keep reading.
I want to be talked about. I want people to know my name. I want people I don’t know to Google me. I want my phone to vibrate every single minute with Twitter and Instagram notifications. I want to be listed in a list of people who matter. In a publication like Times. I want people to dream of becoming me. I want to make people laugh. And I want to inspire them too. I want to be rich, but not too rich. Just enough to know the first name of the person who handles my account. I want to be able to make it to trending topics every time I have lunch at a normal restaurant. I want to be invited to write for famous magazines and give commencement addresses. I want to be sent free shit in the mail. I want the funny and the creatives with blue ticks next to their names to invite me to their private parties. We’ll sing and dance together. I want Manchester United to be my family business. I want to dab and celebrate with my players when we score. I want a balcony. I want a court-side seat to a sport I’m not interested in. But, most of all, I want you.
It was a pretty chilly day in the month of March. The rain was pouring down at a steady pace, making the weather even colder. It was a perfect day to sit inside and enjoy a cup of coffee while watching your favorite show but not for my roommate and me. We were already running around the intramural fields warming up for our game later that night which was cancelled later due to “bad weather conditions”. It had never actually happened before, but whatever. Although it was freezing, we still practiced. While I was taking some practice shots at the goal, trying to find a way to beat my friend standing in the middle of the goal post, a girl drove past by us on the adjacent street shouting at the top of her lungs, “SOCCER SUCKS”. Now I didn’t have any problem with that, but I did want to tell her, “It’s not soccer girl, its football.”
I was raised in a land where cricket is a religion (no, it is not like Baseball!), and cricket players who played for the national team are treated like Gods. People really pray to the other 3 million Gods in India for them to win every game they play. So in this cricket-frenzy nation, I have no idea when football started to grow in my life. I have tried most sports and the reason I started loving football at an early age is because it is beautiful. All we need to play football is a ball and some imagination, that’s it. No pads, no equipment, no specialized fields, nothing – not even shoes! It’s the purest of all sports. We can play it anywhere, anytime with anything around. It is a game that can spontaneously erupt based on the desire to play, and that is the reason I started loving it at an early age. Even though India has never qualified for the FIFA world cup and will never be able to do it in next 50 years, it still became an important part of my life.
After moving to America to pursue my higher studies, I came across the American Football, and as a sports enthusiast, I liked the game. It took my uncle a lot of effort to make me understand every small detail of the game, but it was all worth it. However, there was one thing that really surprised me. Americans don’t like football (or soccer). I tried to find the reason behind it, and got some responses, but most of them made no sense to me! Then I realized that they didn’t hate football, they were just ignorant.
Some of the arguments that I was included in were:
Soccer is for little sissy boys
That’s the argument that I heard most from the people I talked to. Soccer players dive and act like they are hurt. They’re not real men. All I could do at this response was laugh! Trust me; anyone who has ever played soccer knows soccer players don’t prance around like divas, shying away from the physical contact. The amount of pulling, elbowing, physical and verbal abuse is a lot. Moreover, it’s not a sport that’s about physical contact. Since when did sports start to be all about showing physical strength? The amounts of physical injuries I’ve personally had while playing soccer are too many to keep track of. It’s no pads, no protection. All-out war. That’s soccer’s answer. You wear protection.
Soccer is boring
When a game ends with a score of 0-0, you can understand why someone would call it boring. But putting a point on the scoreboard in soccer is much harder to come by. Players will get hacked, fouled, shoved, and then they still have to have their wits about them enough to shoot and score. When a goal is scored, it’s a cause for a celebration. But the reason doesn’t just lie in how uncommon scoring might be. It’s all about patiently trying to break the opponent’s defense while preventing them from scoring. The breakthrough may happen at any moment in the 90 minutes that a game is played. Imagine a loose ball is bouncing around in your team’s penalty area, and your heart is pounding and your eyes are wide with anticipation. There’s a small respite as relief sets in when you see the ball getting cleared. And that same anticipation grips you when your team has a good scoring opportunity for themselves. It’s such a high level of tension that when they do score, the emotional outburst is greater that it is for any other sport.
Not to offend anybody, but I personally think American football is just a commercialized sport which includes 5% action and 95% standing around waiting for the commercials to end. I agree it takes a lot of creativity for the passes to be completed, it is a very tactical game, there’s a lot of scoring going on around the whole game, and it takes a lot of physical strength to play the game at its best, but in my opinion, it can never match the majesty of Wayne Rooney’s overhead kick, the dazzling dribble of Ryan Giggs, the perfection of a David Beckham pass, or the proof, in Lionel Messi, that a small man can fly with the angels. To make an opponent fall takes brute force; to outwit him with your feet requires genius. Plus, it’s all the more pleasurable if you can see his face.
The sense of nationalism that Soccer creates cannot be matched. The World Cup is an event that any country has the opportunity to play in, and it brings various cultures and peoples from around the world together. First and foremost, soccer is the most popular sport around the world. It’s a celebration of enjoying the same sport no matter what country a person hails from. Moreover, it’s the only sport where the best team can lose. In this game, no team is more powerful than the other. Best example would be Ghana beating USA in the World Cup twice. This is the game where poor countries can prove their point and leave an impression on the world. And to do that, it definitely takes really good skills.
Bouncing a ball with your hands is natural. Catching a ball with your hands is natural. Try it with your chest, knee or foot. Not easy! That’s because controlling a ball with the feet is much more challenging as it is not a natural body movement. Therefore, it takes a lot of patience to be able to do even some of the simpler things in soccer, like passing or shooting properly. When you see a pro-football player making an amazing catch, it’s true it would be difficult to replicate, but it’s possible. However, trying to replicate some of the quick-footed juggles that pro-soccer players do would be downright impossible, even for some seasoned soccer players. In addition to that, every man on the pitch while playing soccer has to be in his best physical condition. They go for 90 minutes or longer, running the entire time without any breaks. American football is 60 minutes. Theoretically, the players only play half the time since offenses and defenses change out. Furthermore, a play in football lasts around 5-10 seconds. Once it’s over, players get to rest for around 30 seconds. However, by the fourth quarter of a football game, often times you can see fatigue in the players. While they are also tired in soccer matches, the players still play, and with just 3 substitutions allowed in the whole game, the best players are strong until the very end. Just to sum this up, Matt Damon said in one his movie, “Any moron with a pack of matches can start a fire. Raining down sulfur takes a huge level of endurance. Mass genocide is the most exhausting activity one can engage in…next to soccer.”
When the players put so much effort to take their game to the next level, how can the fans be behind? The Super Bowl may have an astonishing figure of 100 million viewers in the last game, but the UEFA Champions League Final’s viewership crossed the 500 million mark in 2012 that was played in Munich. American football games are fun to attend. I personally went to every home game this season. People are pretty obsessed with their teams, and it shows. But compared to soccer, football atmospheres are nothing. I’m not saying this. It shows even when you see those games being played. The thing soccer fans do differently is singing their team’s chants. It creates an intimate moment between the fans as they come together as a single, strong voice to cheer their team on to victory. Not only chants, soccer fans are the most creative fans around the world. Their creativity can be seen in the way they all come together to represent their team in the stadiums. And don’t forget about the soccer hooligans. Cannons, smoke flares, drums and outrageous enthusiasm. This is how every international and league soccer game is played.
When talking about fans, how can one not talk about the number of female fans that soccer has? Well, there’s a solid reason for that. Soccer has the most attractive athletes! If a questionnaire was handed to every woman in the world which asked who the sexiest male athlete is, chances are that David Beckham of England and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo would dominate the list. The thing about soccer is, it doesn’t drastically change a person’s appearance other than allowing the person to be in his top cardiovascular condition. So unlike football, you don’t have to put on weight or be super tall. Soccer simply has regular guys and girls at their peak of physical conditioning.
That’s the reason why soccer is the most popular sport in every country. Seeing Europeans, Africans, Asians and Americans play against each other makes one think that, despite of the differences, they are all the same. They all have the same understanding of the game that no amount of economic progress, technological advancement or population size can correlate to the probability of being crowned champions. That’s the beauty of soccer. Players of different backgrounds and cultures express themselves in one language on the field, the language of the beautiful game.
You walk in. The door welcomes and greets you on your way. There is a hallway right in front of you. Football, Basketball, Cricket, Tennis, and all other sports have there own entrances on your left and right. You turn to your left after going a bit further. The text on the door right in front of you says “Football”. As soon as you stand in front of it, it changes from being a door to your personal companion. It asks you who your favorite Football player is. You go down your memory lane and in the end, come up with a name that every football fan is aware of!
Your new companion shows you the list of honors your favorite player has ever received, making you proud of who you support. Then he asks you your favorite team is, and again, it makes you proud of who you support. What a feeling! Now that you’re filled of those great feelings, you are asked whether you need any assistance or not. Since this is your first time in here, you say yes. A person comes up to assist you, and this is not any ordinary person! He is the person who knows everything about your favorite game, and this way, he is the most helpful person for you right now.
Now, it’s time to see what was invisible for you till now. You walk in with your assistant, and the things inside just amazes you! It’s just the dressing-room you’ve always wanted to be in! Everything you can ever want to see related to your favorite sport in a single place. Whether it’s the equipment, the trophies, the history, everything. Past, present and the future at the same place! The adrenaline rush inside you tells how excited you are to see all this and experience this. But it’s not the best part. The best is yet to come!
You see these pair of newly designed cleats that you always wanted to get. But yes, it’s way too expensive! You don’t show that feeling on your face, but your heart knows that feeling, only if you had enough money for those. But this assistant you have, right next to you, knows how that feels. He’s been there, just like you. But you move on from those pair, and you find a one that you like, plus it’s also affordable. So what next? You try it on and just buy it?
Not gonna happen here Sir! You wear them, and if it fits you, your assistant has a surprise for you! He leads you straight from that dressing-room to the ground. Yes, you heard it right, to the Football ground! That feeling you get when you leave the dressing room for the ground, ah! So now your assistant tells you to be ready. There’s a goal post right in front of you and there’s some balls too! How can you buy a pair of cleats without even trying them in the real field, right?! You take a step back, and with a deep breath underneath your excitement, you kick the ball….and it’s goal!
So you like these shoes? Good! But wait. Remember the assistant had a surprise for you? It wasn’t this ground he took you on. It’s the pair of those shoes you can’t afford to buy, and since you can’t buy them, you can still try them, right? 🙂
It’s turning out to be the one of your best days of your life! Everything you’ve ever dreamed of is coming true. Playing on the field wearing the shoes Ronaldo and Messi are wearing nowadays, yeah baby!
Most will say what a great dream, but too good to come true. I will just say this, “It’s not a dream, it’s a vision!“
“Our vision is only actionable if we share it. Without sharing, it’s just a figment of our imagination.”
2 people passed. Some sadness filled their eyes, but in another moment, they were laughing. Even I couldn’t stop laughing. Same happened to many more. All of a sudden, their eyes seemed to be happier than before. It was fun to see their at-once changed expressions. Why? They all were looking at me! I was sitting on a chair waiting for the doctor to call me with my one leg spread across the floor. The wound gave a very saddening effect to anyone who looked at it but excitement on my face could not be hidden from anyone. The doctor had seen me few minutes before and told me that it was indeed a very deep cut and so, he would have to perform some tailor stuff. You know stitching and all! But why the excitement? Coz I’ve never been into this tailor stuff before. Though there have been many deep cuts in the past, few of them worse than the current one, but there was not even a single instance where I allowed Doc to carry his needles and scissors. I was always afraid of some pointing non-living thing going deep in my body. But today was no ordinary day. My old enemy, football, had yet caused me another of some serious troubles I’ve ever got. 7 years back it was a fracture in right hand, and now there was a volcanic eruption in the toe, again the, right side, with just one dissimilarity. There was no lava, just blood. Somehow it was made to stop by applying some primary first-aid things. There wasn’t much pain but as soon as you see it, you’ll be saying the same thing that everybody said, “Oh my God!”
So as I sat on the little bed looking at the primary preparations of the doc’s assistant and asking him several questions about the time period of stitches (I want to play again ASAP!!!), the doc stepped in closing the door behind him. He looked casual, the way I like it. The first thing he did made me realise the pain that was hidden from sometime. Next he asked me to lie down rather than sitting on the bed. “But I want to see how it looks, the stitching stuff”. This was my reply. He laughed a bit and said, “I guess you don’t want to lie down fainted”. All said, I quickly waited for the next instructions! Then started the process of tailoring me. 3 injections of small doses of anaesthesia to make my toe unconscious. And yet, it wasn’t completely unconscious. I could still feel whenever he put in the needle and took it out. Actually, it wasn’t much pain. It was the feeling of pain that made me feel something new. I had the realisation I was completely alive, no need to worry. Then came the next 2 injections, to lighten the effect of wound. Now that did hurt. Actually it was the only thing that hurt, the injections. Who the hell invented them? Couldn’t the doses be given by drinking or something like that?
So once again I moved out of the room with a different expression on my face, the expression of triumph. People, as before, looked confused, seeing my toe and then my face! I signed the form of something I don’t read in the pathology lab and then waited for my father to come back. He went to get the meds. Suddenly my cell started ringing. I picked it up and here’s the little conversation:
Friend: Hey where are you?
Me: At the hospital.
Friend: Why? What happened?
Me: (in a serious tone) I’m a father now.
Friend: What the hell!
Me: (couldn’t stop laughing!!!) Just kidding. Don’t worry; my clothes were torn, so I came here to get them stitched.
Friend: I think you are out of your mind. Will call you later