This has been the endless summer of soccer. The opening rounds of Euro 2012 brought pulse-pounding games almost every day before culminating in Spain’s crowning. Soon after came the men’s and women’s Olympic football tournaments, ending with Mexico’s upset over Brazil and the U.S.’ revenge against Japan. The U.S.-Canada semi-final was the summer’s most entertaining match, complete with hard-edged physical play, a frenetic pace, and a dramatic ending that even the writers of “Air Bud 3: World Pup” would find unbelievable. And sprinkled throughout were exhibition matches played all around North America featuring some of the world’s most famous clubs playing in iconic venues.
By the time the Premier League hype machine started chugging in early August I was burnt out on soccer. I felt like the season couldn’t begin anew because there was no off-season. The previews, the transfer rumors, the fixture lists; they all read as dull as Team GB’s Olympic shirts. It’s easy to forget that watching soccer is just a hobby, a pastime meant to fill the spare hours of our lives, like solving sudoku puzzles, knitting, tinkering with cars, trolling comment sections, and short-selling football club stocks. The thought of a brief break from paying attention, at least until some cooler weather, was tempting.
But then the games started, and all my dour thoughts vanished as swiftly as Daniel Sturridge ghosting past a defender. Goodison Park heaving with equal parts excitement and anxiety in the final minutes of Everton’s victory over Manchester United. The camera cutting to Reading’s 30-year old owner sitting next to his stunning wife Katsia Zingarevich as his club raced out to a 2-1 lead over Chelsea leading Steve McManaman to ask “But is he happy?” Rickie Lambert and Steven Davis’ goals for Southampton sending shivers through the sea of sky blue before Man City’s furious comeback. Fulham and Swansea’s 5-0 stompings of Norwich and QPR.
All in just the first handful of Premier League games. And just like that, I’m back, hooked, fiending for the next hit of games like Renton at the door of Mother Superior’s. All I needed was a little bit of perspective; to remember that the reason why we devote so many hours to watching and following the lives of others is to be swept up in the sheer entertainment of the 90 minutes and nothing more. Or, put more simply, ludus ipsa loquitor.