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How Football Is Like Foreign Films


With huge advances in cable, satellite and Internet technology, we can now watch practically any major football league on our TV screens or monitors in the comfort of our living room. Your favorite football team could be the one that’s in the city near you, or it could be a club that’s on the other side of the world.

Football matches on TV are now so abundant that we can practically watch a live game almost every day of every year. With so many games available, football as we know it has become less about sport and more about entertainment. We sit back and watch the stars perform on television. But instead of Benicio Del Toro, Christian Bale and Jack Nicholson, we’re watching Fernando Torres, Cristiano Ronaldo and Nemanja Vidic, week-in week-out for 10 out of 12 months of the year.

Because the TV screen or computer monitor is our lens to the world, proximity becomes less relevant and our expectations of quality entertainment increases. Sure, we can go to our local club to watch our football, but we can also watch the best of the best on our TV sets. We can pick and choose from the best of the European leagues with a little bit of England mixed with the best of Spain, a selection of Germany and an encore of Italy, as well as the best of South America and more.

This is why I feel watching football is like being a movie connoisseur. There are film buffs who only watch foreign films and devote themselves to studying the works of art by directors such as Ingmar Bergman, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Federico Fellini, Francois Truffaut and other greats. Then there are moviegoers who only support local cinema. Americans who prefer movies made by the big studios in Hollywood. Cinema buffs in England who only enjoy independent British cinema such as works by Ken Loach or Mike Leigh.

The point of my story is that the choices of football on our TV sets has grown so much that we no longer HAVE to only watch our local football. Football has become global. If you’re in England, you can — if you desire — only watch and follow La Liga. If you’re in America, you can watch Premier League football. And so on. Sure, you can watch football from your own country too and support that. But when you walk up to that ticket window (i.e. grab your remote control), you have the power to choose what you want to watch. You no longer HAVE to support your local league.

I’ve heard and read the argument so many times over the years that if you live in America, you have to follow Major League Soccer. Otherwise you’re a Eurosnob. That’s simply ridiculous. That’s like saying you go to the movies but you can only watch movies made in Hollywood and that you’re not allowed to go see that new independent or foreign film.

I understand the concept of supporting your local league so the money goes into your MLS team, but fans should be encouraged to be free to watch any leagues they want rather than being criticized.

Personally, I watch a combination of Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, Carling Cup, USL, international team games/friendlies/qualifiers, some MLS, La Liga, Bundesliga, some Argentinian football, some Serie A and some Open Cup. How about you?

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  1. BD

    July 23, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    I agree with the backpacker. MLS games are WAY too slow and just intolerable compared to the leagues that I watch. No offense to MLS, it’s just not there yet. I watch Premier League (CHELSEA – number 1!), La Liga (Zaragoza), Bundesliga (Stuttgart), and Serie A (Roma). I also love international cinema (Koreeda, Tarr, Kieslowski, and Haneke are some favs). But I’m no Eurosnob. I also love the work of American auteurs like Hartley and Jarmusch. Nice article, Gaffer….

  2. Alan

    July 23, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    My main concern is that I can’t see every single one of my favorite EPL team’s (Aston Villa) games, because we only get to see one or two a week. They offer an online service, but it only works on windows PCs. I own a mac. It sucks, but I make do.

    Of course, I also support my local DC United as often as I can.

  3. Verdade

    July 23, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Nobody watches only local movies. Dumb analogy. A better one is that europoseurs are like guys who would rather watch porn than sleep with their wife.

  4. CA_backpacker

    July 23, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Thank God, because being in the US if all I could watch was MLS, I’d kill myself, the quality of play is so poor relative to the EPL or other top European leagues (La Liga, etc).

  5. coachie ballgames

    July 23, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    You make a great analogy between only supporting an MLS side and only watching Hollywood films. If we have access to the best why mess with the rest?

  6. Spenser

    July 23, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Being from America, it’s tough to watch a lot of games in general, and I do my best between random internet streams and making the trek to my buddy’s house who has FSC. (I’m planning on watching Liverpool’s Tottenham opener there)

    But my main deal is EPL, and Liverpool, but if time permits I enjoy many of the other teams in the league. And I’ll watch any Liverpool games in other comps (FA, Carling, CL)

    I’ve specifically chosen a team in all of the major leagues, so that I can try and find a way to watch them and have a team to root for. SPL- Rangers, La Liga- Atletico Madrid (though Real and Barca will make me want to watch them I’m sure), Serie A- Inter Milan (wearing a kit today!), Ligue 1- PSG, Bundesliga- Werder Bremen.

  7. Dave

    July 23, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Aside from going to see my Carolina Railhawks play on a regular basis, I don’t watch a lot of American club soccer, aside from a few US Open Cup and MLS Cup ties. I’ll pay attention to the CONCACAF Champions League to see how USL and MLS clubs are doing, but I don’t go out of my way to watch those games that often.

    I mostly watch Premier League, La Liga and UEFA Champions League, FA Cup and interesting Carling Cup ties. The English domestic cups are interesting to me, since we have nothing like that in any other American sports — not since Indiana high school basketball changed their format, anyway — and I like the underdog stories.

    As for international matches, I follow the USMNT, but I mostly stick to the major tournaments — World Cup, Confed Cup, EURO, Gold Cup & Copa America.

  8. PHRC

    July 23, 2009 at 10:11 am

    I mainly watch the Premier League, with international games next, followed by a sprinkling of La Liga, le Championnat and Seria A…..MLS coverage here in Canada other than Toronto FC is pretty light.

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