Football is not my first love.
I grew up in the old St. Louis Arena watching SLU basketball games, followed the team to the Kiel Center (alias Savvis Center, alias Scottrade Center), and now to Chaifetz Arena. I played, I managed, I even coached in the world of basketball. It is a part of me.
Football is a my exhilirating second language:
a common tongue to supplement my American dialect.
What is more thrilling than sitting amidst a crowd of passionate fans? Beer flows freely, insults bandy about, and by final whistle the excited babble crescendoes into a harmonic melange of enthusiastic hollers and groans.
That is true of almost any sport, of course, but football is truly universal. Children seeking entertainment often contrive a football from rags or twigs or plastic bags lying about. It is a game instantly recognized anywhere one goes. Its rules are understood regardless of language or culture.
In Ghana, every bar with a television posts the matches of the day. I’ve watched Bayern-München crush Barcelona and caught the final vs. Dortmund after touring Cape Coast Castle. Tomorrow Ghana pits against Nigeria in a hotly contested match to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
America doesn’t love football the way it loves baseball, American football, and basketball. Someday I would love to claim loyalty to a particular team (though not quite à la Greenstreet Hooligans) but perhaps my heart is already lost to hoops and Chuck Taylors. It’s my mother tongue, after all.
All the same, football has entranced me.