As a little boy, sports were an obsession to me. Like most boys my age, I dreamt about holding the World Cup trophy high after smashing Brazil or Holland in the Finals, hopping on a private jet to the United Center and arriving just in time for game 4 of a clean sweep in which i dropped 60+ points (slightly below my post season average) and collecting my Finals MVP. As faith would have it, my ambitions slightly exceeded my attention span (and perhaps my talents, but mostly, really, my attention span). In those days, I passionately rooted for teams and got my fill of wins. Romario's Brazil won the World Cup in 1994 and Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls dominated the NBA. I remember faking sleepwalking to catch a glimpse of the score when games were past my bedtime, or my father waking me up with a smile to tell me that my favorite team had won. Sports were everything and there was no feeling in the world like having your team win.
As life progressed my interests changed and sports took so much of a backseat to other passions, that I fell far behind my decimal quoting season average knowledgable friends. It happened gradually. At first, I could only name the top 5 of the topscorers list. Soon, players started coming of the bench and I wouldn't know their names. Until finally, some hot young superstar would be on the cover of an NBA or Fifa game and I wouldn't have the slightest clue of who he was.
Of course, sports talk dominates male conversation everywhere and backing down from a discussion on any topic is admitting defeat and failure in the most embarrassing way possible to someone with an ego as outsized as that of a Surifatu Man. Also, some of my friends have remained as passionate about their teams in their twenties as they were as little kids. I had a friend yell at me on my birthday because I joked about the score of a game during the replays, only to have every male guest at my birthday agree with him. Our group traditions largely revolve around watching important games together.
So, you pick a team and you stick with them. Technically, this should give you more favorable odds than the die hard fan who stuck with his team through thick and thin. After all, the fortunes of sport teams wane, along with their finances. So, the logical step would be to back a team with an excellent history, a rich bank account, very famous players and a coach with a proven record.
So far, this hasn't brought me any luck. Chelsea was moderately succesful, but never captured the only trophy that really matters in club football, the Champion's League. Miami, with all its superstars was defeated by a second rate bunch of hand me down veterans with a German choker as their biggest star. Real Madrid, despite having the undisputed best coach in the world and two Fifa Player of the year winners in their ranks, haven't been able to deliver any substantial bragging rights.
So I backed out of it, let the Barcelona fans have their fun and hoped that things might get better. Sunday's performance was promising. But last night, once again, my much needed win didn't arrive. Let's hope for the best this season.