In which Milan’s dislike of team sports is discussed


in Daily updates, Oxford

World Cup watching

For what I think was the first time in my life, I watched a portion of a televised soccer (football) match tonight: Poland versus Germany, as seen in the Saint Antony’s Bar. As a North American, I associate soccer with dreary mornings where children from ages of about ten to maybe seventeen or eighteen play while parents look on. My own soccer experiences were absolutely miserable – even worse than baseball, which I really despised. My experiences with coaches were all mutually hostile, while the ones with fellow players ranged from hostile to genuinely abusive. Soccer was as bad as the Cub Scouts. This has contributed to my general underlying conviction that team athletes are goons. It’s a conviction well reinforced by my spate of unfortunate incidents involving hockey playing roommates.

My natural response to being an obvious outsider in the team sports environment was to defy the lot of them, rather than try to conform. Of course, that is exactly the strategy that will maximize mutual hatred and cement a lifetime of resentment and barely suppressed anger about the whole experience. While I am absolutely certain most people playing team sports are decent people, I have the same kind of fear of them as I have of dogs, after being bitten several times as a paperboy.

Watching the match was interesting far more on sociological than athletic grounds. There was a small but noisome cadre of Poland fans, surrounded by many more people cheering (very softly) for Germany. By the time of the German victory at the end, they had become overt enough to make me pretty nervous. Since I find the whole concept of sport to be vaguely distasteful and unsettling, I suppose that’s not surprising. Even so, I suspect I will see bits of at least a few more matches before the World Cup has ended. I did manage to learn to enjoy Olympic hockey – at least when Canada was playing – so perhaps I am not entirely hopeless.

PS. With two days left in the semi-final of the video contest, please keep voting for Mica. Of course, once he gets to the final, I will be kicking up the publicity a bit.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous June 15, 2006 at 12:32 am

Words to get lynched for in Europe during the World Cup (see above).

Milan June 15, 2006 at 12:42 am

I’ve got nothing against the World Cup, per se, or against people who like it. My own preferences just lie elsewhere, for reasons I think are quite understandable.

Anonymous June 15, 2006 at 12:51 am

“perhaps I am not entirely hopeless”

Not entirely, no. But you need to set aside illogical childhood associations and wander drunkedly through the streets of Oxford, wearing a silly hat, and bellowing support for one or another football team. You know, like a sensible person.

Milan June 15, 2006 at 1:02 am

I don’t think it makes sense to think of preferences as rational or not rational. What people want is prior to logic. Logic is just one way of generating ways of achieving goals, or of evaluating the compatibility of goals.

That said, I will try to give the World Cup a fair hearing, despite my hesitation.

Anon June 15, 2006 at 1:23 am

BTW, Milan loves team sports!

Milan June 15, 2006 at 1:28 am

When even The Economist has an editorial on “Why the World Cup is better than the Olympics” how can I resist?

That post really spun itself out on the basis of a surprising vein of anger I tapped by mistake while writing it. Watching the game was actually fairly pleasant, in the way observing a dance can be.

B June 15, 2006 at 4:38 am

Given the nature of memory, I suspect your recollections about soccer, baseball, etc have been simplified and essentialized into one comprehensible story.

I doubt it was that simple, or that bad.

Sean June 15, 2006 at 4:53 am

It was much worse when Euro 2004 was going on. It uncovered some deep issues that are not really about football.

Jo June 15, 2006 at 1:26 pm

There’s nothing wrong with not liking football. Though not liking it tends to leave you with very little to do when your friends are glued to their television screens 24/7…

Milan June 15, 2006 at 1:31 pm


That’s no concern. 60% of those in my program are from North America, and couldn’t care less about football. Also, I still have three papers to write, a job to find, and thesis research to begin.

Ben June 16, 2006 at 12:58 am

All just because Trinidad and Tobago qualified ahead of Canada…

Milan June 16, 2006 at 9:36 am


I am cheering for Tunisia. Go Tunisia!

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