Friday, September 08, 2006

Monday Night Futbol




I never imagined my love for Monday Night ¨football¨ could ever survive while I lived in South America. But life has a way of allowing the good things to continue, even if in a completely different way. And so this past Monday I felt like I had fallen off the face of my own reality and into a third world ¨futbol stadium¨aqui in Cochabamba.

My sports fans will appreciate this because I tell you what I saw that night was sport in its purest form. O sea (aka ïn other words¨USING MY NEW SPANISH SKILLS!) it was paying $4 US and having the best seats in the house: lowest level, center pitch (think 50 yard line my American Football fans)sitting on a thin sheet of styrophone on a thick backless concrete slab.

During the game, not a single person that I could see left their seats. There was no food markets, no kids play areas or guys trying to give a free towel away if you sign up for a credit card, features so common in American ballparks and stadiums. Stranger yet for an American, there was no alcohol sold at this game, or any game in Bolivia for that matter. Why? Because the fans that beared these uncomfortable seats on this chilly night were there for one reason, and one reason alone: an intense love of the game. Beer, while immensely popular in Bolivia, would simply detract from the purpose of exisiting and watching the worlds most popular sport unfold before thousands of excited eyes.

I have always loved my American football, and will continue to do so, but leaving the stadium that night, walking the jubilant streets of a city celebrating in the success of their heroes, I happened across a park where young kids in tattered and dirty clothes excitedly ran and laughed around a grassless pitch with a lopsided ball, focusing intently on the task at hand: to get that excuse for a ball through what they called a goal, two stones set up only feet apart. It was that night, more than ever, that I could not help but have a moment realizing why it was that futbol was, and will always continue to be the worlds unifying game.

So long as we live in a world where 75 percent of the population lives in what we call developing or third world countries, an escape from poverty is found in the simple things in life: flat land, two objects to compose a goal, and anything that passes for a round object that can be kicked. There is not a lot of reason to hope when you look at the poverty stricken landscape of Bolivia, the 2nd poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, but that night, I found myself captivated in the joy of people who came together to watch and play a sport, and in doing so, find a little reprieve and hope, even if only momentmomentarily.

Perhaps as the incredible commercials with Bono says, One Game Can Change Everything

3 comments:

R said...

I am jealous. Hope you enjoyed the game, even though they lost. Stupid goalie.

Eric Smith said...

If that is what it takes for Americans to appreciate "the beautiful game" then we need to get everyone to a South American futbol match. Jealous of ya and how you get to see how people really appreciate the game buddy.

Eric Smith said...

If that is what it takes for Americans to appreciate "the beautiful game" then we need to get everyone to a South American futbol match. Jealous of ya and how you get to see how people really appreciate the game buddy.