In The Fan In You (TFIY) series, TSG explores how a fan became fanatical about their favorite team. This piece about the sport itself.
By: RJ DeMello
The beautiful game enveloped me completely in the summer of 2006. A school trip in my sophomore year of high school to Portugal opened my eyes to the sport I had written off years before. It was pure coincidence and has turned into pure addiction.
Growing up in Rhode Island (you know smallest state, mobsters by the name of Joey Bananas, something written by the Farley brother, I get it) I had the typical American attitude towards the sport.
My dad will always be the ultimate sports fan, if jai alai was on, he would find a reason to get behind one player and watch the entire match. He would turn on the Revolution in the late 1990’s to “support the home team.” He had zero concept of what was going on but nonetheless there we were sitting and watching the ball go back and forth, and back and forth. I just sat there, petulantly stewing all game long, complaining of how boring and stupid the game was.
Anything but this would be better to watch, give me jai alai, the Electric Company, FALCON CREST!.
Years of this went by until I hoped on a plane in May of 2006 with a few of my classmates to visit Portugal on a school trip.
All of a sudden, this weird game Europeans loved so much enveloped me. Driving down the main drag in Lisbon I distinctly remember seeing a giant banner draped over a building with Cristiano Ronaldo on it and thinking, “Who the hell is that pretty boy?”
Looking back at my naivety, I am embarrassed. One of the biggest stars of the sport, I am even in his home country, and I don’t have the slightest clue who this guy is.
It only gets worse from there. On our continued tour of the city, we stopped outside of the big red wonder that is the Estadio de Luz. One of the great stadiums the featured one of the greatest teams in Europe.