I’m falling in love.
No, wait, it’s lust. I know it is but I still don’t care. I know eventually this will fade and become something else and the feeling might not be the same, but right now none of that matters. Right now, I know I’m doing the right thing.
I’ve been watching the sports we write about here for most of my life. I can remember specific moments in my childhood when I learned what offsides was in hockey, or how many yards you need for a first down in football. I’ve tried very hard to write about what I’m familiar with, mostly because I don’t want to sound terribly uninformed.
That’s changed when it comes to soccer. I’ve dived in pretty deep with this whole thing, and I have to admit it’s been a bit different than I expected. I am completely under-prepared to talk soccer with anyone, let alone write about it on the site. And yet, here I am doing just that.
Still, I do have things to report. So far everyone I’ve watched with has been at the very least supportive of me becoming a soccer fan. Even other, more experienced Arsenal fans have been forthcoming with advice and tried to help me better understand the team. There’s no bias associated with a “new fan” that I can find, as long as you stay low key and are willing to learn.
In fact, the learning is one of the most exciting parts of this whole thing. Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool was all kinds of ugly, but I chalked it up as a learning experience for sure. The sheer terror associated with rooting for a team up and man and suddenly losing was pretty awesome, and it was a good introduction into being an Arsenal fan.
The most electrifying part of my brief career as a Gooner came on Saturday during a 6-0 drubbing of Blackpool. Still, it wasn’t the goals that got me excited. Well, okay, they did. However, it was how the first goal happened, the first of three for Theo Walcott.
The buildup for the goal, the touch on the ball and the flawless passing to put pressure on the Blackpool back line. The perfect ball put into open space and that half second where Walcott isn’t in the picture. It may be a bad ball, but suddenly there he is running all out and breaking away.
And suddenly it’s in, and you’re a little kid watching sports again.
The truth is, familiarity robs us some of the joy sports are supposed to bring. Very little shocks us when we watch football or hockey because we know how goals and touchdowns are scored, we know what to expect. With soccer, however, so much of what I’m seeing is completely new. I used to think I should be embarassed by this, but so far I’ve learned that’s part of the fun of all this.
The idea is not to get too excited, but that internal wonder and joy is a big part of why this is so much fun. It’s a feeling that I’m sure will eventually fade. Beautiful goals will be a dime a dozen in my brain, and that awe and wonder will be replaced with tendencies and soccer bias. But that too will be exciting, and I’m looking forward to days where I know all 20 teams in the Premiership by heart and fully understand offensive formations.
Until I get there, it’s going to be a lot of fun.