Of meteors, fandom and Yoda

A quick one, on migration, from casual viewer, to fan, to lover, to cule. I can imagine some long-time FCB fans, making this speech that Yoda made as he dismissed a young Luke Skywalker:

Ready are you? What know you of ready? For eight hundred years have I trained Cules. My own counsel will I keep on who is to be trained. A Cule must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away … to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Cule craves not these things. You are reckless.

If, tomorrow, your local news program said that a meteor was going to be visible, streaking across the night sky, what would you do? Damn right, you would. You’d get yourself to the best observation point, and watch that once-in-a-lifetime sucker, gawking at it like the marvel that it is. Now imagine this Barcelona team as that meteor.

Not only here at BFB but in the world at large, we fans are many, spanning a range from “They lost. Whatevs,” to “They lost. I’ll be in my room with a pillow over my head.”

And constantly, whatever the sport, long-time fans scoff at bandwagon fans, as if they are these silly Johnny Come Latelys, who have no right to discuss or enjoy a team. But you know what? Many years and a pile of soci cards ago, I too was a newbie, stumbling across a highlight of a wonder goal and thinking “Boy, what the hell was that!”

Today, I love my club. Over everything. Players, presidents, boards, sponsorships, comings and goings. It is always, and always will be, the club. Does that make me any more of a fan than the person who saw that meteor streaking across the footballing sky, and said “I’m in!” No. Many of us, at the end of this season, have said “Well, the bandwagon will be a little lighter, now,” and we’ve said it for different reasons. I wrote a while back that you know you’re a true fan when a team can break your heart. And I believe that. But you can still be a fan.

Further, the glory that is Barca isn’t diminished because people are flocking to it because suddenly, our club is all the rage. It’s pretty funny to go from wearing a Barca shirt and having nobody react, to having strangers scream “Meessssiiiii,” at you, or give you the thumbs up. And that’s good funny, because casual fans become devoted fans become cules become (if someone decides to undo what RoSELL did) socis. And the club’s beating global heart continues to get stronger.

There is a certain arrogance endemic to sport, contained in the “Oh yeah? Well I’ve been a fan since even before the club was born. When the Big Bang was about to happen and that first piece of matter split, I was a fan. Neener!”

I have a seatmate at work who is a crazed Chicago White Sox fan. She has followed the club her entire life, as has her husband. One part of me wouldn’t be surprised if it was a condition of marriage. Her three children are all Sox fans. She has had a season ticket for decades, and bought a townhome in the shadow of the ballpark, as soon as they went on offer. In 2005, the White Sox won the World Series, and they did it in a swashbuckling, home run-bashing way that for many, was as captivating as our Barca is for casual baseball viewers. And she said of those casual fans, “Good! Bring them on. Even if they don’t become real fans, the team that I love deserves the attention.”

And it’s true, even as it runs deeper. Every now and again, during a particularly heated battle with a Premiership club, we will get some of those divine fans, who say “Hmph, how can you be a fan of Barca. You don’t even go to matches and probably don’t live in Barcelona! Hmph!”

As if that freakin’ matters. This season was the first in some time that I didn’t have a chance to get to Barcelona for a vacation, and matches. Life, circumstance all conspired to deprive me of the singular joy of clutching that ticket in my hand, sliding it under the scanner and having my heart leap as it beeps and goes green, even now, as if this is somehow a dream that can be snatched away — the scanner will buzz, flash red and I will wake up from my nightmare. And you walk into the Camp Nou …. and even when it’s empty, you swear you can hear things …. screams, bellows of rage, echoes of long-gone joy and sorrow. I didn’t go, and I miss it so.

None of which makes me a damn bit better than a Barca fan who lives in Canada, or India, or Nigeria, who might never get to a match, who follows matches on a craptastic Web feed and would say “Gesundheit!” if someone walked up to them and said “Benvingut!”

This place is extraordinary, in that there is none of that institutional arrogance. A fan who just decided to follow the club this season is as welcomed by the family as those who watched Gaspart grow up. And this is as it should be. Because nobody owns a meteor. It’s there for the world to look at, marvel at and discuss for years to come. The more the merrier. Welcome. Ain’t it pretty?

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Written by:

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.

239 Comments

  1. Laurentiu88
    May 10, 2012

    probably you all have seen this in the guardian but what do you think of these possible innovations talked about there:

    “Retrospective punishment for diving

    Diving does not cause as much damage as a punch in the face but somehow it feels dirtier. At least physical brutality has a blue-collar honesty about it, whereas simulation is a despicable white collar crime, an administrative slight of hand or foot. Public opprobrium has done nothing to dissuade divers for the very good reason that diving pays. Only firm action can eradicate it: technology can help – if suspected fraud on the field of play is reviewed by a panel consisting of, say, a referee, a former player and a preening Hollywood diva, and a ban is dished out to anyone found guilty, then players may get to thinking that it is not worth diving. On the other hand, we could just claim that cheating is a skill and those who do it well deserve to get away with it.

    Change the penalty law

    Not all fouls in the box are serious enough for a penalty to be a proportionate punishment. A free-kick would suffice. Similarly, many fouls that are committed outside the box deny a clear goal-scoring chance but the wronged team is only compensated with a free-kick outside the area, for which the guilty team gets to erect a wall and reorganise. Sure, the aggressor may also be sent off but that is not always a suitable sanction – especially if the foul occurs in the last few minutes, giving the wronged team little time to make use of their numerical advantage, meaning the aggressor has effectively exploited a loophole in the law. To close that loophole and apply proper justice, referees should be allowed to award penalties if they consider that a foul has sabotaged a clear goal-scoring chance, regardless of where it took place.”

    can you imagine how la liga would be if they had to give sanctions for diving :)) not to mention even more vague criteria for penalty? psss don’t even wish to imagine 🙂

    • Hajar12
      May 10, 2012

      Completely agree, especially with the no diving rule, that would be something wouldn’t it? 🙂
      Furthermore, something needs to be done about the handball rule, it’s getting extremely ridiculous. The second penalty against Espanyol shouldn’t have been called, that was a bad call, and we sure had our share of bad calls as well.
      Maybe this is just wishful thinking from our part but who knows, maybe there is good somewhere in La Liga!

      • Barcaleya
        May 10, 2012

        Second the handball rule. The Alaba one was terrible, thus ruling him out of the finals. And di Maria pumping his fist in triumph was doubly annoying.

    • Huckleberry
      May 11, 2012

      I would support both ideas!

    • nzm
      May 11, 2012

      Yes – I like it.

      I’d also like to see players, who deliberately try to kick a ball into the opposition players’ hands/arms, retrospectively pinged for their actions.

  2. mom4
    May 10, 2012

    The Messi thing, rivals, and the media?
    I don’t like people very much right now.
    Good thing the Bible only tells me I gotta love them. Nowhere does it say I gotta like ’em. Generally speaking, people are not very likeable, the media and EE cast offs even less so.
    And I’m grumpy ’cause I’m not over this blasted sinus infection yet.
    Hafta order pizza ’cause I don’t feel well enough to cook. My kids are ecstatic about the pizza.
    So no, I don’t like people right now.
    I guess I still like most of y’all.
    I especially like Barcaleya for recognizing the need for the subjunctive mood above. Good on ya, girl!

    I’ll go crawl back into the hole from which I emerged and pretend I remember what it feels like to be able to breathe. Need a giant vat of Vic’s Vapo Rub.

    • Barcaleya
      May 10, 2012

      Oh, thank you mom! I like you too! 😀

      I usually write here in a stream of consciousness mode and don’t bother too much to correct my grammar. But was for were was just unacceptable. I couldn’t leave that mistake under my authorship. Haha

      Hope you get well soon! Vic’s vaporub works for me as well.

    • mom4
      May 10, 2012

      See why I don’t like people? Now everyone sees the words Messi and racism next to each other and assumes the worst.

      I think Dani, Abi and maybe Ronnie should chime in on this.

    • culegirl3
      May 10, 2012

      What is it with south american’s being accused of being racists?
      This is like Luis Suarez part 2…so not right!

  3. Benj
    May 11, 2012

    Hey fellow Cules, Id love to know opinions on this article:
    http://blogs.soccernet.com/barcelona/archives/2012/05/10_players_tito_vilanova_may_s.php
    Just an editors blog on the most popular rumours for the transfer window. I really like his breakdown of the rumours actually and its funny reading peoples comments.
    He has backed the signings of Jordi Alba and Javi Martinez as well as ‘maybes’ for Llorente and Adil Rami. The vast majority of commentors have rubbished this saying that David Luis, Van Persie and Gareth Bale are the most needed, and that Valdes has to be replaced.
    This upsets me, as I honestly think our attacking line is doing just fine as it is without the likes of RVP, our wings are fine without Bale and Rami would be a cheaper, and in my opinion better option than Luiz.
    People playing way too much FM/FIFA methinks?
    Anyway, happy to be commenting again. Love to you all from Oz.

  4. Gogah
    May 11, 2012

    Cavani or Hulk for Barca’s forward line?

    • barca96
      May 11, 2012

      No Hulk. The guy doesn’t look mobile enough for my liking.

  5. nzm
    May 11, 2012

    Bummer – Pinto out of the Betis match with a sprained ankle.

    And that Alexis chap had better get his injury-prone self in better health next season, otherwise I’ll have to go to Camp Nou and have stern words with him.

      • nzm
        May 11, 2012

        Nice body, no engine. 😀

      • blitzen
        May 11, 2012

        *Volunteers to inspect his chassis* 😉

      • nzm
        May 11, 2012

        Don’t forget to check for rust in the wheel arches. 🙂

      • mom4
        May 11, 2012

        I no longer doubt Tello’s usefullness to us.

      • Gogah
        May 11, 2012

        you girls are nasty 😀

      • mom4
        May 11, 2012

        BFB is working strangely for me—test.

    • hansh
      May 11, 2012

      His face is so incredibly differently colored than the rest of his body!

  6. blitzen
    May 11, 2012

    So it’s confirmed. Lucho has left Roma, apparently against the wishes of the management:

    http://fourfourtwo.com/news/italy/101411/default.aspx

    “His work was good. At a certain point it wore him out and he felt the need to stop,” general director Franco Baldini told Sky. “He won’t be training anywhere next season.

    “We invited him to take all the time he needed to decide, hoping right until the end that he would stay.”

    Such a shame. I have no doubt at all that Lucho has what it takes to be a brilliant coach, but it seems that he felt the pressure from the media and the fans were undermining him and causing too much conflict. Maybe Italy was just the wrong country for him.

    • nzm
      May 11, 2012

      Wow – him and Pep both worn out. Wonder if we’ll find them on the same beach? 🙂

    • nzm
      May 11, 2012

      And talk about ageing – he’s put on about 8 years just from a year at Roma.

    • Clouseau
      May 11, 2012

      worrysome and sad development in football. pressure stake is getting out of hand nowadays. i fear an increase of burn-out syndroms affected coaches…

      sad for lucho! his italian-job adventure deserved a better ending.
      but he defo made his stamp on roma’s further development.next coach will benefit of his work.

      • Jim
        May 11, 2012

        I’m finding this hard to understand. These are young men. They maybe need to take a leaf out of some of the gnarled old EPL managers’ books. 🙂

  7. nzm
    May 11, 2012

    FYI – the Barca women are destroying Espanyol right now. With 15 mins left, they are 6-0 in the Miniestadi.

    After the nerves settled, they have actually put together some decent combinations.

    They need another 4 points from their last 2 games to win the league.

    • blitzen
      May 11, 2012

      That’s great! Let me know if you find highlights anywhere!

  8. mom4
    May 11, 2012

    Is anyone else having problems with replies? It works, but it’s different?

    • nzm
      May 11, 2012

      yah – it’s been slow all day.

  9. Laurentiu88
    May 11, 2012

    hmm, can it be possible that Pep didn’t know about Tito’s appointment? maybe he just didn’t know the decision but gave the recommendation? or he jus said i don’t care who you put in my place; he didnt even talk to Tito before quitting?….too many questions…

    • KEVpitt
      May 11, 2012

      Hey you think Pep will return after one year and they placed TITO in as an interim? He did say he will be back!

    • Clouseau
      May 11, 2012

      highly unlikely since he had without a doubt his hand’s on tito’s promotion always made sure that not only his contract’s were extendet but also titos&staff..
      looking back to it the whole years it sounded like a promotion campain by pep who always talked about tito’s significant role in his success.

      pretty sure the board prefered a more prominent coach as pep’s heir but pep changed their opinion.

      all after all it is all typical media talk. by telling that he decreases his influence and appleases rosell camp by making sure it was their idea from the start :).

  10. Messiah10
    May 11, 2012

    Fantastic homage to Barca! Run of Play is my other favorite blog I have. Brilliant writing. http://runofplay.tumblr.com/post/22593693145/homage-to-barcelonia

    If you check it out, you can also check out homage to Pep which I posted a few blogs back. Really good stuff. Enjoy the homages and enjoy the weekend!

  11. May 11, 2012

    Anyone know where I can get my fix of Hector pills? Its May already..

    • ciaran
      May 11, 2012

      Hector pills are needed but transfer rumours are so funny.
      Marca announced today that we have sewn up the transfer of Gareth Bale, unfortunately no one told Harry Redknapp.
      We also have signed Jordi Alba and forgot to tell Gareth Bale… awkward.

  12. AJ_10
    May 11, 2012

    I am all for signing just one Lb (Jordi Alba) and no one else (considering we don’t sell anyone). I’m confident that with Villa , Afellay, Cuenca, Tello, Pedro and Sanchez slotting into the two positions upfront, we will have the right set of personnel for various differnet game-plans i.e width, pace, poacher, combination play etc. I mean its not like Pedro, Afellay, Sanchez & Villa are going to injure themselves at the same time right?

    In other news….
    Looks like RVP is also considered in addition to Neymar, Tevez, Cavani, Forlan, Llorente & Torres. Sigh.
    I am new here so where do I signup for my share of Hector pills?

    • May 11, 2012

      Sorry. No Hector Pills for newbies. You have to take it along with your humble mods, who will be, at various times of the off season, snarking about this rumor or that. Particularly the funniest ones.

    • ciaran
      May 11, 2012

      Robin van Persie is a cut above all of the others strikers that have been mentioned. His only problem historically has been the tendency for niggling injuries but he has played around 30-40 games this and last season so hopefully he is over his problems.
      If there were the slightest possibility that he would leave Arsenal, there would be no one better to lineup alongside Messi, Alexis and the like.
      He is genuinely a world class striker, great at set pieces, a leader & captain. He has single-handedly dragged Arsenal into contention for a Champions League place.

      I’m not the biggest fan of courting other teams’ players but I’d love van Persie.

      • May 11, 2012

        I’m not the biggest fan of his temperament. There have been too many manifestations this season of that. Apparently there’s also a salary complexity, if you believe the rumors that such things have been explored.

        One report has him being offered, but that his salary is an issue. I call BS on all of it. It’s not like Wenger is going to say “Hey, I think I want to sell my best player, because Gervinho, Bendtner, etc, etc, have all been so convincing.”

      • ciaran
        May 11, 2012

        If Arsenal don’t make it into the Champions League then he definitely is going to want to move on.
        In regards to his temperament, he is aggressive and passionate but I think that temperament is Arsenal’s problem, not enough of their players are aggressive.

        Saying all that, when your look at first XI for next season, left back is the biggest question mark, followed by a DM & CB backup.

      • AJ_10
        May 11, 2012

        I agree that RVP is the best out of the strikers I mentioned but I don’t think he’s worth it(high wages + injuries + not much game time). I’d go for him if we didn’t have a certain Asturian striker who goes by El Guaje. I know that we can’t expect him to be 100 percent but I think he deserves a shot.

        Re: Kxevin
        Noooooooo!!! But ,but….
        Been a lurker for over a year. I think I’m entitled to a paltry amount? at least a sample?

        Just in case I didn’t mention it before , or it got lost within the other comments (on an earlier post), Keep up the good job Mods. The Mods + commenters make this THE Best barca blog on the net.(NOT sucking up for pills……..yet :-D)

      • blitzen
        May 11, 2012

        No to Van Persie. Among other things, he goes selectively deaf in the Camp Nou. No good for a Barça player. 😛

      • nzm
        May 11, 2012

        That wasn’t the first time. He also went deaf in the World Cup Final. Maybe it’s a Spanish thing with him. 🙂

  13. nzm
    May 11, 2012

    New post up.

Comments are closed.