As the dawn of a new EPL season nears, I am preparing to spend countless hours over the next 10 months following the drama that is the Premier League. The 2010 season also marks my first as a married man, and as a newlywed, I realize that some of those hours that I’m offering up at the Church of the Fever Pitch are not mine alone to tithe. While I don’t profess to be a relationship expert by any stretch, I thought it might be useful to offer up 5 easy ways to convince your significant other that a few hours of soccer a week can actually be good for your relationship. Results may vary, but if just one of these catches on, you can thank me later.
1. Find the Common Thread – As soccer aficionados, we were all drawn to the game for different reasons. Some of us have played since childhood, others revel at the level of skill that is presented on pitch, some appreciate the technical aspects of the game. For others it was the camaraderie, the pints, the enjoyment of spending an afternoon or evening at the stadium, singing until we are hoarse. The approach to getting your significant other into the game should be as flexible as any supporter’s reason for getting into the game. The key however, is to find a connection between what your significant other is already interested in and how that interest is present in soccer. Is your significant other a math wiz with a keen sense for finance? Talk up the income generated or lost by top flight clubs. Introduce them to the inordinate salaries commanded by the best in the game. Tie the near and actual bankruptcies, the debt, the placement on the Forbes list, the billionaire owners and how these factors bear on results on the table. If your significant other has a penchant for gossip, introduce them to Mr. Terry, Mr. Bridge, and Vanessa Perroncel. History? Well, that’s easy, talk about political unrest and the rich history of clubs that have been playing the game for over 100 years. Whatever that angle may be, exploit it, and use it to your advantage. Interest can grow from an aspect of the game that doesn’t necessarily have to do with the tactics on the pitch.
2. The Beckham Effect – A slightly trickier method is to play on the star power of the top flight EPL footballers. If you are not easily made jealous by 90 minutes of ogling, sometimes non-fans are introduced to the game via an affinity for a celebrity footballer. It’s best not to offer this up (it’s cheap that way and likely to backfire), but if you happen to find your significant other paying special attention to a certain face on the TV screen or repeatedly perusing the World Cup Vanity Fair edition (for the articles of course), this can be an in to following the sport on a larger scale. Maybe the suggestion to watch comes as “hey, wouldn’t you like to see what -insert famous footballer here- is up to?” instead of referencing the club that said footballer plays for. Sometimes it’s about getting attention, however achieved.
3. Quality Time – A more straightforward approach would be to bill soccer time as quality time. Make it known that the sport is something that you are passionate about but something that the two of you can share together. This may be particularly effective when shared over a meal (the classic pub date), an early weekend brunch or lunch playing hooky from work (for us here in the States where matches often start in the morning or midday). Either way, sometimes it’s the spin that matters. Instead of presenting it as an interest you aim to keep separate from your significant other, it may prove beneficial to make your significant other feel like a valued part of your passion. Buy them a kit, give them the basics and see where you end up from there.
4. Live Passion – One surefire way to truly appreciate the EPL is to see it live. While this isn’t a possibility for everyone, particularly if you have to buy two tickets (and airfare), there is truly no comparison to attending a match in person. If you pick the right match, the energy and atmosphere can’t be denied. This tactic is particularly useful if a vacation is incorporated into the trip, that way, it’s not just about the soccer, but about the great time that you had in London (for example) watching soccer. Soccer can also be incorporated into a vacation that truly isn’t about soccer. Maybe try to coordinate a match as part of the cultural experience during a trip. This could serve as another way to reel your significant other in.
5. Take the Easy Route – If none of these work, there is always the easy way out. Date a fellow supporter. Just make sure that you both support the same team, because with all the challenges attendant in relationships, splitting support shouldn’t be added to the list.
What other suggestions would you offer to get your significant other into the EPL? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.