Pep Guardiola has never coached a national team in his life, yet he might be the most influential international coach of the generation.
A Personal Letter on Sports Fandom
Sports fandom is a little absurd, isn't it? Particularly as adults who obsess over professional athletes because they throw or kick a ball really well. Don't get me wrong. I am not speaking from a high horse. I am a massive LeBron James and Arsenal fan, owning jerseys for both. But more and more recently, I find myself laughing at the ridiculousness of what sports and fandom are.
To me, the most amusing part of sports fandom is the lengths some sectors of a sport will go to make fun of how another sector goes about their fandom. For example, European soccer fans often laugh at and call American soccer fans corny because of generic and overly whimsical chants like, "I BELIEVE. I BELIEVE. I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!"
You'll see regularly quoted tweets on videos like that with European soccer fans mocking what they deem to be corny American nonsense. Yet, these are the same European fans that will compose and sing songs in thousands, serenading their favorite athletes in an idolized manner. As if that were sane, perfectly normal behavior. And again, I'm not saying one is better than the other. I am certainly guilty of the same hypocrisy where I believe my way of fandom is superior. I have a rule where I refuse to buy the jersey of an athlete younger than myself as if that doesn't reflect some type of insecurity.
But sports fandom is filled with stuff like that, things that makes zero sense from an objective standpoint. For example, we have teachers struggling to make a living- yet a professional basketball player who rides the bench on a bottom-dwelling team walks away with millions of dollars every season. And I know that you're probably sarcastically thinking something along the lines of, "But can that teacher hit a game-winning three-pointer with a hand in his face?" I certainly get it. We gear our society toward rewarding the people who get the most attention, not the ones who are the most important. It's how the Kardashians exist as a billion-dollar entity despite displaying no discernable skill or level of real-world importance.
I'm not even sure where I'm going with this. I guess I just want to write an open letter about my morphing view of sports and sports fandom. I often think about what the future of my favorite leagues will be. For example, are humans going to be NBA fans forever, or will there come to a point where people go, alright, it's a little absurd to care so much about which player can throw the ball in the round hoop the best? Will player salaries stop increasing at some point, or will they continue to balloon to where athletes make billions and more? Like will there be an English Premier League season in the year 2250, or will we as the human-race stop watching soccer by that point, instead, funding the parts of society that need it most? Or will another sport simply step in and take its place?
Whatever the future of sports and fandom may be, what we cannot deny is what they reveal about the human psyche. The fact that society unites under children's games disguised as 'sports' tells us we're not all that different. We're all yearning for a slice of childhood joy as a reprieve from our real-world problems. You know what; I think I might break my rule and get that Bukayo Saka jersey after all.
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