Soccer and Soap Operas

Arsenal Manchester UnitedI have observed with interest and bemusement (is that a word?) the fanaticism that exists whenever the English Premier League, Champions League or whichever other league from the numerous number of soccer leagues that exist is on.

The men we thought were hard core and unfeeling become mushy, passionate and expressive creatures. “Love”, an alien word in their vocabulary before, becomes an everyday utterance whenever they talk about their beloved “Arsenal” or “Man-U”. That man who couldn’t be bothered when your friend got a baby and you “oooh-ed” and “aaah-ed” at the baby photos she uploaded on Facebook, now openly cries, and yes, there are tears, when his team loses or his favorite player gets flashed with the dreaded red card.

I have also noticed an interesting parallel in men’s devotion to soccer and women’s devotion to their soap operas, especially the Mexican telenovellas.

Let’s start with the names of the characters: in the soaps, the names Ronaldo, Carlos and Diego are very similar to the soccer players names, like Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Diego.

Then there is the passion. In the soaps, the man and woman who are passionately in love openly express their love in public. They kiss in public, they have fights in public and declare their love for each other with so much passion as to move all who are watching to tears. This is the same case with the soccer fans. They argue loudly at bars about why their team is the best team. Morning hours at the office are spent rehashing the play by play that occurred at last night’s game in exquisite detail. If that’s not passion, I don’t know what is.

I cannot forget to mention the tears. In the soap operas, the characters are constantly crying in nearly every episode, both the men and the women. They are very expressive lot, these characters. No wonder the women who watch them are usually moved to tears. How can they resist feeling the plight of Maria, whose real mother doesn’t know she is alive, while she is in jail because the man she loves is with a conniving woman who had her framed for stealing the father of the man she loves’ silver teapot while she was working at his house as a maid?

During the soccer matches, the same thing happens. Our dear men watch eagerly, almost physically kicking the ball on the television so it can go where they want it to go to score the goal. The clock is ticking; the countdown to the end of the last half is on. Time is up and the final goal has still not been scored. The man is moved to tears. He just cannot believe that his team has lost. I don’t know whether it’s the death of a dream (what dream, you ask? I ask the same) or if he pictures going to his workplace the next day and having to face the mockery of his colleagues who support the rival winning team.

The parallels are there for all to see. So the next time a guy laughs off your soap opera devotion, remind him of the time he cried openly when his team lost. He insists that you don’t know the actors personally, so he asks why you are crying. Well, does he personally know the sportsmen he is so passionately defending and supporting? I think not.

I rest my case.

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