What Are Your Football Rituals?
Last week EPL Talk asked the question, “Who Do You Watch Football With?” – and for the most part, got the variety of answers we were hoping for. It seems everyone from the “all alone football fan”, to the brave pub goers, to a few lucky ones who live with in walking distance of their beloved were all accounted for. One EPL Talk reader shared a fantastic and touching story of his time watching the beautiful game while serving in Iraq.
As we continue to bring you news and analysis of all things Premier League and England National team related, we also strive to take an in depth, fun and even humorous look at football culture in the UK, North America and any other country where EPL Talk readers reside. The EPL Talk community continues to thrive with healthy debate, lively chatter and witty comments. To all the readers of EPL Talk, thanks for your continued support and feedback.
For our next delve into football fan culture, we take a quick look at our superstitious friends and the ever important football ritual. In this post, I’ll attempt to outline some rituals that are common among American sports fans. As always, we look forward to your feedback as our little football community continues to grow in 2010.
- Preparation -
Almost important as who you watch football with is how you watch football and more specifically, how you prepare for match day. In America, we don’t always have time to prepare for a big match because of the time difference of UK kickoffs (the mid week Premier League or Champions League matches are usually smack in the middle of our 9 to 5′s). On the weekends, important preparation may be something as simple as your routine coffee, breakfast or even an hour or two in the gym that gets you ready for a match.
I myself like to get up way too early on a Saturday and watch the Premier League Preview show, read Randy Capps’ Premier League Preview and listen to any one of my six or seven favorite Premier League related podcasts. After my in depth preparation, I’ll know any side stories the British media are reporting on, which teams are playing and where, and be able to refresh my mind on the current league table. For me, this ritualistic preparation is almost important as the match itself.
In England and other parts of the UK, how do you prepare for a Cup final, local derby, or even a normal Premier League weekend?
- Anticipation -
You’ve got all the up to date news, stories, fixtures and even team sheets. In anticipation of your club and a full match day, it’s likely you’ve donned your lucky scarf, replica kit, or whatever piece of clothing or garb you’re comfortable in for the day. Without these simple memento’s of cloth and stitch, you’re viewing experience isn’t quite the same. I never wear my replica kits on match day, it’s almost like a reverse superstition of sorts. A football supporter has to be comfortable physically and mentally to be able to fully devote themselves to the full 90 minutes. Total concentration, and at times I’ll even believe I can effect the outcome of the match in my teams favor if I’m focused enough.
Most athletes listen to a particular piece of music in preparation and anticipation of a mach. Supporters are no different. It may be heavy metal or hard rock to get you pumped up or these match day tunes could just be your favorite band or something relaxing to calm your nerves (a little Radiohead or Arctic Monkeys never hurt anyone on match day). Music on match day has always been a great way to curb anxiety while awaiting kick off. If you’ve had success with a particular song or band and have implemented those sounds into your match day rituals, it’s likely you know a little about,…
- Superstition -
Massively analyzed, talked about and obsessed over in the States, the superstitious sports fan is almost as common as the replica kit and pre or post match pint (or both, depending on how thirsty you are). Got a lucky pair of socks that seem to bring your team 3 points when worn? Maybe it’s the same side seat on the couch as last week’s 2-0 win over your fiercest rival.
Regardless of how mundane it seems to the outsider, these mindless rituals we obsess over when conducted the right way can ease our mind and even empower your team’s central striker to a stoppage time winner (at least that’s what we tell ourselves). I’ve heard some incredibly odd superstitious rituals growing up stateside, everything from teeth brushing antics between innings in baseball to facial hair growth towards the end of a season to getting dressed the exact same way on game day. I’m sure there’s more oddities out there and I look forward to reading them in the comments below.
The game of football effects all of us in different ways. Whether we obsess over our preparation, anticipation or even silly superstitious rituals, we all share a similar passion. Sometimes I take a step back from all the madness and almost think my obsession isn’t much more than the simplistic chasing of a small round ball around a strip of grass by overpaid millionaires.
But of course it’s much more than that. Football is largely bigger than the 90 minutes of running, sweating or kicking. It’s the culture that surrounds the game that really draws me into it’s allure. It’s how I view the game, how I prepare for it, the songs, the chants, the talk, the debate, the off-the-field stories and so much more. It’s the whole package. Think of it as the old adage, the sum is greater than the parts. When we truly look at the surrounding variables of football, then, and only then will we start to realize it’s true power and ability to entertain, captivate and enrapture our senses.
Photo Credit: Coachie Ballgames