With a bit of self inflicted Derby hangover, International Break, slow news week, and the fear that someone will try to tell me a certain Brazilian played "well" in a meaningless friendly, in which his team lost, will clearly drive me to drink. So instead without further ado, our very own Mrs. Shankly has written her, "Confession of a Football-Holic!" Think of it as our very own Alcoholics-Anonymous meeting, but instead with football, and we can all share our obsession. I will be back Saturday AM with a preview for Fiorentina, and in the meantime enjoy the guest spot!
Initially, it was a new sport for me - intriguing and unfamiliar, I followed my first World Cup as much as it fit into my normal schedule, taking into account things like school and work and friends and sleep, etc. But like a virus that spreads through the entire body, I soon learned to plan my life around football instead.
It’s all about priorities. Do I really want to go hang out with my friend tonight? Or would I rather watch my football news, read La Gazzetta dello Sport, and get some sleep so I can get up early and watch the game(s)? The friend is nice, but knows nothing of football, so I wouldn’t really have anything to talk about anyway. Definitely football. I can always find new friends online, friends who understand my disease.
My family are having a reunion, but there are a couple of big games during the weekend. Do I skip the reunion? I decide to go to the reunion with the promise of a TV and a few hours timeout for my games. They see me, I see my games…best of both worlds, baby.
In a relationship, you are supposed to set boundaries. The boundaries in my house are simple: No phone calls during matches. No walking in front of the TV during matches. Anything that is important enough to say during a game is also important enough to remember to talk about later. Talking is welcome before the game, after the game, or sometimes during halftime. I pride myself on keeping healthy relationships.
The age old question of “What to wear?” is simplified when you have this football-related disease. Now the question is “Which jersey to wear?”, a question that is easily simplified by whether it is during Serie A or an international break.
I recently discovered that there is really no limit to how many matches you can watch simultaneously. Just so long as you have 1 or more TV’s, and as many computers/laptops as you can scrounge, plus a fiber optic or other high speed connection. Set them up in order of importance. For example, the screen with the Milan game is closest to you, with the highest volume. The game that is the least important has the lowest volume and is furthest away. You can also use your phone to check scores or gamecasts if necessary.
Menus should be planned carefully according to who your opponent is. For example, for a derby or other really big match, I recommend nothing with bones or chips or other obvious choking hazards. Matches of this nature seem to have big surprises and inspire outbursts and expletives, and it would be bad if you accidentally sent something down the wrong pipe. (Although watching football is a good way to go!) This is, of course if you have the stomach to eat while watching. I often wait to eat after the match to know if I will even be hungry at all.
Someone once tried an intervention with me. They looked for a 12 step program like AA, and thought that the FA could maybe help me. But English football was not my style, so I thanked them for their concern and came home to Milan and my Serie A. Which is great, because a relationship with a club is much less complicated than a relationship with a human being. There are no birthday gifts to buy or expectations of any kind. You just watch, and enjoy the gift of football, for better or for worse, that your team gives to you. And the joy and passion and pain and inspiration you receive is immeasurable.
I wish I could say that I just made all of this up, but it really is based on my reality. I would be curious to hear confessions from others - they don’t necessarily need to be as extreme. But it would certainly make me feel better to know that I am not the only one who lives, eats, breathes, sleeps, and dreams football.