Reader C. H. wrote in after the team’s loss to Bayern and it’s as appropriate a commentary on our world now as it was when he sent it in the hours after the defeat.
After I watched us lose to Bayern Munich, like a lot of your readers I was feeling pretty down. Not only did we lose, and deservedly so, but I had to go play a pickup game with four madridistas on the opposing team (come on, Dortmund!). However, when I got to the pitch I saw something that always puts a smile on my face and I thought I would share it with you.
Brief context, I write to you from the Dominican Republic, a country primarily interested in one sport: baseball. Being a kid here in the 1980s, it was hard finding kids to play football with unless you knew someone of foreign descent or went to a school run by foreigners. It wasn’t until the mid 1990s that football became a mainstay on television with the arrival of ESPN Deportes (today we have several channels with a decent offering).
As the audience for the sport grew, I watched as people joined several bandwagons. I support AC Milan! Manchester United! Real Madrid! I’ve loved them all along, they claimed. I don’t have to tell anyone who reads BFB that in the past several years our beloved Barcelona has created many, many new fans (welcome! I always say). Will they be here tomorrow? Next year? Is Bayern the new club now? Whatever happens, I would like your readers to know that Barça’s influence here has not been meaningless.
During my lifetime, I have noticed that our game generally consisted of two types of players: box-bombers (that’s where you bomb the ball into the box and hope for the best) and tricksters (ball hogs who think they know what they’re doing). Today, if you walk around any football pitch in the country (unfortunately not many) you’ll see many more kids actually making an effort to play in a collective way. One of the most common insults you’ll hear kids say is “pasa, idiota pasa!” (pass, idiot, pass). Ball hogs are verbally punished. To be fair, the Spanish national team derserves a lot of credit as well.
I know this is purely anecdotal, but I can see it damn it! I can see it! Maybe some of those kids start wearing (Bayern/Real/Borussia) jerseys tomorrow but their game was influenced (forever?) by what our team has been doing over the past several years. That makes me smile.
PS., After last year’s final, the kids didn’t start buying Chelsea jerseys.