No really I do. Back in June 1986 I had the opportunity to live in the town of Amboise, France for a month. Ostensibily to learn the French language but with my eye on seeing as much as possible. It was like being an exchange student for a month. I lived with a nice French family in a house behind the Chateau sharing a room with another student from Mexico. On the weekends many of us would take trips to different parts of the Loire Valley. Touring various other Chateaux like Chenonceau and Chambord was a blast. One weekend, another student and I took a train into Paris to take in the sites. Unbeknownst to us, the day we arrived was the same day France was to play Brazil in a quarterfinal match of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. We spent the whole day doing what tourists do. We hit the Louvre, Eiffel Tower and the Champs. By the end of the day we were tired but not that tired to venture out into the parisian night. We found a little bistro near our hostel and decided to eat there. It was a charming little place run by a husband and wife team that sat around 40 people maximum. The place was packed with locals eating and watching the match on a TV. The owner must have brought down from his upstairs apartment because it was perched precariously on the bar. The atmosphere was electric with patrons singing and yelling at every tackle and missed opportunity. It was amazing. The longer we stayed the more and more we got into it, I have to admit I was pulling for the French. Not because I feared being killed by hooligans but because I felt a connection to the French people and their passion for the game. This passion displayed it self as the game ended in a victory for the French. The restaurant went wild with celebration. People I didn’t even know would come up, give you a big hug and kiss you on both cheeks. The owner went to his wine cellar and produced several bottles of champagne, decanting a sizable amounts for all who were there. It was soooo cool. After the celebration settled down, we headed for the Left Bank to see what action could be found. Well, it was astounding. It was as if the entire population of Paris had emptied out into the streets. Nothing but people revelling in victory and national pride. We sat at an outdoor cafe watching the parade go by drinking beers like it was the last I’d ever get. That’s how I got hooked on soccer. You folks who poo poo soccer can bite me, you don’t know what you’re missing.
A little aside to this. Since I work out of my home office I get to listen to XM’s feed of the matches. Some of you are saying “you listen to soccer on the radio? you need to get some help.” It’s actually pretty good, no different than listening to a baseball game.