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A Sporty Summer

May
25
2006

Oh, gee, so it looks like there’s some kind of soccer thingie coming up next month.
That’s a hilarious sentence, in case you didn’t realize it. To live in Spain and not know about the World Cup coming up next month in Germany is even more unimaginable than living in the States and not knowing about the Superbowl. It’s like living in Alaska and not knowing that winter comes, or in the Western world and not knowing about Christmas, or anywhere and not knowing the sun rises and sets every day. Oh yes, we do like soccer here. (And next door, as my Spot-on colleague in Italy knows.)
That “we” doesn’t necessarily include me. It’s not a specific issue with soccer itself (although some of the fans and the possible racist problems with the games in Germany are appalling). I’m just not a big fan of watching any sport on TV. They all sound the same to me, like a drone of boredom when you’re stuck in a relative’s house at a family gathering and you’ve finished your Nancy Drew and no one’s at all near ready to go because all the grown-ups are drowsing in front of the TV digesting some huge meal.
There is one advantage to televised soccer spectacles; during games is a great time to get into restaurants, as long as they don’t have a TV. When I used to live in Madrid, during big soccer games you could walk along the deserted city streets and get an idea of what was going on, because every time there was some action you heard a surge of noise from the open windows. Not to mention “gooooooooool.”
I’ve just discovered that even sailing, when it’s covered on TV, makes that same kind of droning sound as any other sport. Although you’d think it would sound so nice – flapping sails and lines and seagulls and such – announcers manage to give it that same noisy touch. You see, Valencia has its own major sporting event coming up next summer: the America’s Cup. Some of the preliminary racing to choose a challenger is going on now and it’s broadcast on the regional channel here. If you’d like your own challenge, see if you can figure out how the scoring works.
Sailing, I have to say, seems like a much more civilized sport than soccer because you can tuck a picnic in a boat, something you can’t do with a ball, or even the loosest fitting shin guards.
This is the first time – in over 150 years – the America’s Cup is being sailed in Europe (yes, that’s right, it mainly spent a lot of time in America, and an alert reader has pointed out that the race was actually started by the Brits before it was won by the Americans). A Swiss team won it last, but a quick glance at a map will tell you why Switzerland’s not hosting the race in one of its seaport cities. Valencia was chosen for its fine sailing conditions, which to me means a bit too much wind on the beaches, but I’m hoping that will keep things cool in the summer.
I want it cool because my sport this summer will be dodging the up to two million people the Catholic Church expects to come see the Pope when he visits Valencia in July, doing his part to shore up the traditional (parents of the opposite sex) family. (The legalization of gay marriage is just one of the areas in which Spain’s current Socialist government has drawn a frownie face from Benedict XVI.)
It should be quite an athletic summer.

Share  Posted by Deborah Klosky at 4:55 PM | Permalink

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