Friday, August 14, 2015

Football, Soccer, and Vera

Are you ready for some football?

Apparently, it depends on what part of the world you live in.

In most places, football is a game where two teams move a ball around without using their hands.  The objective is to get the ball into the opponent's territory, which in this case is the goal net.

In the United States, football is a game where two teams move a ball around using mostly their hands.  The objective is to get the ball into the opponent's territory, which in this case is the end zone.

Do you see how confusing this can be for someone who is not a sports fan?

Except, I am a sports fan, so this is not confusing to me.

In fact, Americans use the word "sports".  Globally, people use the word "sport."  Now THAT baffles me.

I discovered last week that the English Premier League (EPL) started their 2015-2016 campaign.  This is basically where the sport's best come to play.  I mean, sure, there are other leagues worldwide, like Liga BBVA (Spain), Major League Soccer (MLS) (USA), Serie A (Italy), Liga MX (Mexico), Ligue 1 (France), the Russian Premier League, and Bundesliga (Germany).  However, for the most part, us Yanks are primarily interested in the EPL, mostly because there are American players that play for EPL's biggest teams.

Two of my friends on social media are huge (and I emphasize HUGE) soccer fans.  Let's call them Mr. Chelsea and Mr. Liverpool.  Mr. Chelsea is Chelsea FC (football club) all day, everyday.  He cheers when they win; he sobs when they lose.  So I decide to look up a bit on Chelsea (note: a slight bias for Chelsea because of my late dog, Chelsea, heh, but I digress).  In America, with the National Football League (NFL), you will have team names, like the Dallas Cowboys or the Pittsburgh Steelers.  For Chelsea, they have two "nicknames," if you will: The Blues and the Pensioners.

My first thought:  the Chelsea Pensioners?  Are these a bunch of retired folks playing soccer while on Social Security?

At any rate, Chelsea's logo is a lion with some sort of staff (sure beats the Cleveland Browns' logo of an orange helmet), and what we Yanks call a logo, this is what they call a crest; a sporty coat of arms.  How cool is that?

Chelsea is probably one of the more recognizable names in soccer here in America, along with another team, Manchester United.  Man U, as fans would call them, either love them or hate their guts; more polarizing than John Cena in the WWE (World Wrestling Enterainment, which is not considered "sports" but rather "sports entertainment").  In comparison, if Chelsea were like the Dallas Cowboys, Manchester United would be considered as the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball (MLB); a legendary football club with a gazillion pounds of currency to pull in any player they please.

Meanwhile, Mr. Liverpool is just as die hard about the Liverpool FC as Mr. Chelsea is about the Chelsea FC.  Now, normally when Americans see or hear the name "Liverpool," the Beatles automatically come to mind.  Here's how to expand your horizons a bit: Liverpool has a crest of a badge with either a phoenix or a griffin on it (somebody out there help me with that, heh).  I was told that the Liverpool FC is the equivalent to the Atlanta Hawks NBA (National Basketball Association) team.  To top that off, Liverpool even goes far as to come up with a slogan: "You'll Never Walk Alone."  Now, that's an actual slogan; if the Cleveland Browns were to have a slogan, it would be "There's Always Next Year."  Whereas Chelsea's main color is a royal blue, Liverpool's identifying hue is red.  In fact, their nickname is The Reds.  The Liverpool Reds.

My next thought: The Chelsea Blues (forget Pensioners) vs. The Liverpool Reds.  In America, we would call that The Crips vs. The Bloods.

So, here I was, sitting at home the other day, trying to figure out what team should I root for.  Both Mr. Chelsea and Mr. Liverpool gave me a slew of information to sort out as to which famous players play for which team (in my case, who on the US Men's Soccer Team plays where, because that's all I know), which teams have very good rivalries, and which teams have such a dedicated fan base.

When it comes to sports, I love to talk about sports.  But, for some reason, I'm not that good in statistics of each player.  I only care about two stats: wins and losses.  Wins mean you're one step closer to getting into the playoffs; losses mean you're one step closer to getting a top draft pick during the off season.  In soccer, I have no idea how that works, so there is a lot more for me to learn as the season progresses.

After reading an older article on trying to pick a team, and weighing factors left and right, I finally picked a team to root for in this 2015-2016 EPL season:

Everton FC.  The Everton Toffees.

Yeah, snicker all you want.  I think the name is kind of cool, actually.

Everton has a long rooted rivalry with Liverpool (which will get interesting when the time comes that these two teams face each other, considering Everton is also based in the city of Liverpool).  Their nicknames also include the Blues, the People's Club, and the School of Science.  So this must be a team that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson must like.  What's special about Everton?  Like how the Cleveland Browns have Browns Backers, groups of people who gather in their current locale to talk and cheer for the Browns, Everton has Toffee Shops (okay, maybe not Toffee Shops, but they pretty much do the same thing as Browns Backers do).  Speaking of toffee shops, that's exactly how Everton got their main nickname.  Their crest has this tower on a shield; that tower represents Prince Rupert's Tower, which was basically a holdover for drunks and minor misdemeanor ruffians for the night.  Across the way from the tower was a toffee shop, which made candy and such.  Like Liverpool, Everton has a slogan: Nil Satis Nisi Optimum (Nothing but the Best is Good Enough).

So enough about looks, how does Everton play?  From the looks of things, they are a blue-collar, hard working soccer team that has a tremendous history of championships.  Everton does has one recognizable name here in the States, and that's goalie Tim Howard (remember how he saved just about everything during the 2014 FIFA World Cup for the US Men's Team? Yeah, that guy).

However, Everton reminds me so much of my beloved Cleveland Browns.  Awesome fan base, hard working team, history of championships (yeah, I know, the Browns haven't even been to the Super Bowl; the Browns' last championship came in 1964, three years before the Super Bowl was created).  In my eyes, Liverpool might as well be the Pittsburgh Steelers.  And if you know me, I love to trash talk about the Steelers, heh (I know, I know, the Steelers have six Super Bowl rings, ugh; ruin my buzzkill why don't you?).

Now that I have my team to root for, and team members to research, and hopefully one of those cute scarves to purchase down the road (that royal blue/pink one is nice, nudge-nudge, wink-wink, hint-hint), I'm ready for this 2015-2016 EPL season.

Mr. Chelsea and Mr. Liverpool?  Meet Mx. Everton.

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