I absolutely love football. No, not American. There is no tackling involved (at least not by the rules of the game). I mean the original football. You know, the one where you use your feet.
The last couple of years have been a revolutionary time for me. A lot changed, and a lot of things I had loved, but had suppressed in order to please other people, finally were allowed to flourish. Football was one of them.
Growing up I wasn’t allowed to play or really even watch sports, so I’m not a diehard fan; the culture is just not something I grew up with. But even as a kid I insisted on always playing “soccer” at recess. Yes, I loved the game, but I’d be lying if I didn’t also say I loved that I was taller than most of the kids my age, and could run like a horse (then everyone got their damn growth spurts). Oh, and I’m actually totally OK with the parental decision to keep me out of sports as a kid. It just wasn’t something we did, and my life has been none the worst for it.
When I walk into a stadium and know there’s about to be a football game, I get the dumbest grin on my face. I bounce my legs up and down to the bass of the home team entry music, and my heart starts beating faster as I balance on the edge of my seat; all of these things occur completely subconsciously. But today, for the first time, I noticed them; and I thought, “Damn. You’d think I was in love or something.” And then I realized: I am.
Like I said, mine is a bit of a blind love, I don’t have favorite teams (although some loyalties – LETS GO SOUNDERS!) and I don’t know the names of every player and every statistic. If I’m perfectly honest, most of the time, I don’t care who wins – as long as it’s a good game. And today – today was a GOOD game.
If you follow football (or are a living, breathing human) you probably know that this year was the World Cup. And the victor, with seemingly little effort, was the German team.
Going to a European football match had already been on my bucket list for a while before Germany’s street cred went up exponentially so, needless to say, when I found out there was a Berlin v. Hamburg game happening today, I jumped (literally)at the opportunity.
But I had no idea how great it would actually be. Those moments when the home team made 1-2-3 goals made that game easily chart on the list of ‘Best events of my life’. If you’ve ever been to a German football match, you’ll know why. Watching felt like an honor.
Sitting amongst those fans – from young to old – I realized these people weren’t just half consciously at a game, they were living as part of a 90 minute event! And even though it seems like a clean defeat (at 3-0 favoring the home team), the game was neck to neck until the end.
Maybe it was all of the German blood stirring, or maybe it was just loving the game, but over the course of 90 minutes the people who walked into that stadium as strangers, left as friends. We sang together, drank out of plastic beer steins, chanted the whole 90 minutes and half froze in the frigid weather. But we laughed the whole packed out metro ride afterward, even though we couldn’t move because of overcrowding. It didn’t matter that some of us were speaking English and the rest German. We had witnessed a victory, and we left that field waving flags and carrying ourselves just a little bit taller because of it.
I honestly feel so honored, happy and moved that I got to experience the game today. It was the kind of thing that makes you feel like your life has been changed, even though you’ve only been sitting in a chair for an hour and a half. All I can say is: my heart is so full.