If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to hear a Spanish radio announcer scream “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!” until he’s gone hoarse, you know what I mean when I say that six goals in one game is just crazy. I’m sure all of Madrid’s soccer announcers are drinking loads of hot tea with lemon and honey today, gargling salt water, and trying to desperately to regain their voices. You see, on Saturday Madrid’s soccer team, Real Madrid, scored six goals. And I was there.
Mario has never been the typical Spanish man, obsessed with soccer, unwilling to miss a Saturday night eating tapas, drinking beer, and watching his team at a nearby bar. No. I admit, I was somewhat disappointed to learn that, although he professed to be “of Madrid” (as do all true fans of any team – you do not support, you ARE), he did not make it a priority to watch their every move. Believe me, those types of men are prevalent. Just go to any bar on a Saturday night, and you will probably find a sixty-something grandfather, nursing a caña and muttering to himself when things don’t go “his” way on a certain play.
But still, soccer is Spain’s sport. Actually, it’s everyone’s sport, isn’t it? Eveveryone that is, except the U.S. For some reason or another, we’ve adopted as a national sport something we ironically call football, when really the foot is not an integral part of the game. But I digress. Soccer is a part of daily life, and if you live here, you can’t help but know more than you’d perhaps like to know about Cristiano Ronaldo or Sergio Ramos. My students immediately asked me who my favorite player was. Good thing I’d followed Spain’s national team closely in the World Cup and I could quickly answer “Casillas,” the goalkeeper, hottie, and general do-gooder of Real Madrid.
The game itself was exciting, 6-1. Six goals in a game is abnormal. Cristiano Ronaldo, from Portugal, scored four of those. He is a machine, his red cleats pumping up and down the field faster than seems possible. He is also regarded by approximately 80% of my female students as “beautiful.” (I taught them to say “He is hot.” My English lessons are so valuable to them.) Mario and Victor, his brother, were absorbed in the game. I was too, but that didn’t stop me from reading the program because soccer involves lots of running up and down the field, getting hyped up for nothing. “Oh, oh … damn it, off to the side again.”
All in all, a fun Saturday. Definitely worth it to try to understand the soccer culture here in Spain (and perhaps in the rest of the world). In the U.S., we have fanatics, people who, say, live and breathe Cubs baseball. But we don’t generally have upstart violence and thugs, or a special section for the craziest of fans, the kind who like to hit the other team if at all possible. To me, it seems silly, but then, I try not to judge because I know that it bothers me when foreigners make rash judgments of American culture or lack thereof. Thus, I say way to go, Madrid. I’ll be back someday.