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Futbol bridges generation gap
Posted February 24, 2006


My dad and I are exact opposites. He has an olive complexion that instantly bronzes at the hint of sunshine. I, unfortunately, was cursed with deathly pale, Irish skin (thanks mom!). He loves the Stones; I prefer the Beatles. He swears by $1 coffee from Winchell’s Donuts, while I shell out $4 for a nonfat caramel macchiato. He watches Leno; I never miss Conan.

It’s hard to believe that a computer-illiterate father and an iPod-obsessed daughter do, in fact, share something in common besides genetics. But we do, and it’s soccer.

Since I was a little girl, my dad and I have put our lives on pause in order to watch soccer. I would drop my Barbies and sprint to the big-screen television set when my dad announced from the family room, “Hey Trae, there’s a game on.”

Spanish Primera Liga, English Premier League, Italian Serie A – We watch any European club team we can. Roberto Baggio, Thierry Henry, Roberto Carlos and Luis Figo are the gods we worship.

And when the World Cup rolls around, my dad and I fill our calendars with every game televised, no matter what time, what international team.
We then sit for hours, analyzing the players and predicting who will advance to the final as my mom desperately attempts – and fails – to change the subject at the dinner table.

Some people can recall their favorite Christmas or birthday; I have vivid memories of World Cups.

I cried hysterically when Baggio botched a penalty kick during the ’94 Cup, causing Brazil to leave with the golden trophy. I watched Zinedine Zidane weave through the Brazilian defense as he led the French team to victory in 1998. I remember when our beloved big-screen television blew a fuse during the 2002 World Cup in Japan/South Korea, forcing my dad and I to watch each live game on a microscopic television set in my room at 3 a.m.

Our soccer memories peaked this past summer when my dad and I went to see the LA Galaxy play Real Madrid, a team that then-included powerhouses like Roberto Carlos, David Beckham, Raúl, Michael Owen and my hero, Luis Figo.

My F.C. Barcelona-obsessed father even put his pride and his city aside for day, donning a Real Madrid t-shirt, a sacrilegious act in the eyes of a true Barça fan.

The cheers. The chants. The crowd.

As we sat amidst a sea of multi-colored soccer jerseys representing both the club team and its international players, my dad and I were completely in awe watching one of the best teams in the world on our home turf.

Decked out in my favorite Luis Figo gear, I cheered as loudly as my lungs would allow as the Portuguese sensation warmed up on the sidelines a couple yards from where we were sitting. The only other time in my life where I was this excited was when I saw Big Bird during Sesame Street on Ice as a four-year old – and for the record, seeing Real Madrid was twenty-times better.

For me, soccer is much more than 22 players kicking a ball. It’s about a passion I’ve had since I was a child. It’s about the memories I’ve gathered over the years. It’s about the bond I’ve always shared with my father.

My dad will never understand Radiohead’s undeniable magnetism, just as I will never get what the big deal is about Joni Mitchell.

However as we take our usual seats to watch F.C. Barcelona take on Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League tournament, I realize that our differences are OK; there’s always soccer to bring us together.

Tracy Spicer, a senior journalism major, is LV Life editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at tspicer@ulv.edu.