6/23/10: London, England
I’d like to make a proposition. To America. Please, America, can we please stop calling that sport “soccer” and just call it by the name that actually makes sense? It’s FOOTBALL. You KICK the ball with your feet. Yes, you also head the ball and let it bounce off your chest and any place other than your hands, but let’s face facts: “Anywherebuthandsball” is too long of a name. So football it is. And football it stays.
I mean, let’s just stop and think about this for a second. We have basketball – where you try and put the ball in the basket. We have baseball – where you try to get around the bases and score runs. We have racquetball – where you hit a ball with a racquet. So can we just agree to come up with a new name for American football that makes sense? Handball is already taken, so let’s go along with the somewhat-explanatory names and just call it YARDBALL. Because you want to gain yards. (Touchdownball just sounds ridiculous.) For the rest of this post, I’m going to refer to “soccer” by its rightful name – FOOTBALL, and to American football by its new, rightful, and appropriate, name: YARDBALL!
Today we watched England play Slovenia at a British pub. In football. (The US was playing Algeria at the same time, but they weren’t showing that game on any of the four TVs. Shocker.) We sat down and ordered sausages and mash (Kevin) and a chicken pie (me). It was 3:15pm on a Wednesday afternoon, and the place was packed. With Brits. As we sat down, Kevin whispered to me, “We’re rooting for Slovenia. But quietly.” I didn’t say it to Kevin at the time, but I wasn’t rooting for Slovenia! I didn’t want to be yelled at by a British person, no matter how high-class it might sound.
We watched the football game and ate our meals, which were quite good, quietly. Kevin leaned over periodically to instruct me on the finer points of the game. “That guy’s the goalie.” “Slovenia is wearing green.” It was really very edifying.
So it’s obvious that I don’t understand a lot about football, but what I already love about it is the thing that I love about most sports – how it can bring so many people together to root for a common cause, and with so much passion. Americans may go crazy for March Madness, but it pales in comparison to how most countries feel about the World Cup. Even at this small pub in North London, the atmosphere was so intense that I could feel it, even if I didn’t really understand what was going on. There was shouting, clapping and groaning, and when the end of the match arrived, everybody (except us) yelled at the top of their lungs, pounding on the tables and giving each other celebratory hugs. It was pretty cool.
What’s also cool: London itself. In comparison to Luxor and Aswan, Cairo was only lukewarm. In comparison to Cairo, London is downright frigid. But in the time it took us to get from Heathrow to our hostel in North London, we heard at least two people mention how the weather is uncharacteristically hot this week. Hot! In London! What a funny joke.
Picture of the Day: Bangers and mash and chicken pie.