“Amongst all unimportant subjects, football is by far the most important.”
— Pope John Paul II
I’m very excited and happy to announce that I am writing my second book: You Say Soccer, I Say Football: What The Beautiful Game Taught Me About Life And Myself.
I’m sharing this with you all because BWRAO (or, as the senatori among us will remember, The Offside) has been an absolutely fundamental part of my experience as a writer. It’s no understatement to say that without you all — and, in particular, Danny who gave me the opportunity to write for BWRAO and has had so much faith in me — I would never have had the confidence to write not just one, but two books. Moreover, given how obsessed we are with football, I thought that this would be the perfect audience for this book.
I plan to self-publish You Say Soccer, I Say Football in mid-December 2020. This date is not officially official, but I hope to be done just in time for you to buy the book as a Christmas gift for a loved one (or yourself)! Of course, I’ll make sure to keep you updated.
Why should you care?
Football has been an integral part of my life and identity since I was 9 years old. It gave me a place to express myself and “escape” my regular life. It taught me leadership skills and for a long time was the only place where I truly felt like a man.
Hence, I realized that it would be extremely strange for me to not write about something that has been such a big part of my life and to not tell a story that is such an important part of me. I felt compelled to tell this story, especially because it’s a deeply personal one.
“Other countries have their history, Uruguay has its football.”
— Ondino Viera
Another important reason that I’m writing this book is that a lot of people (often quite justifiably) seem to look down on sports fans and perceive them as “lesser than.” All these grown (wo)men crying over an own goal in a Saturday afternoon match? Madness! You’ll often hear them say things like “I just don’t get why people care so much about a stupid game.” or “It’s just a sport! Why do you care so much? Who cares?”
Yes, there are far bigger things in life. Issues like poverty, hunger, climate change, racism, inequality, and access to clean water are life-and-death issues that make a leisurely activity like football seem completely irrelevant. But it was no accident that I quoted Pope John Paul II’s at the start of this post. It was unquestionably the perfect way to describe football’s role in the greater scheme of things. Truly, amongst all the unimportant things in life, football is by far the most important.
Matters of the heart
We often wonder what it is about seemingly unimportant things that move us so profoundly. Why do extraordinary works of art touch us so deeply? What is it about songs by Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Prince and other musical geniuses that bring people to tears? While I don’t know the answers to these questions, I do know that, at their core, they are similar to the answers to the aforementioned questions about why people care so much about football. Why? Because these are matters of the heart.
“By writing, I was going to do with my hands what I never could accomplish with my feet… I had no choice but to ask of words what the ball I so desired denied me.”
— Eduardo Galeano in his book ‘Football In Sun And Shadow’
I want to tell and show the serious side of being a football (and sports) fan. Yes, many times they are merely grown (wo)men that place a ridiculous amount of emotional energy in the game and yes, oftentimes it’s utterly absurd, but don’t let that stop you from seeing and understanding the game’s serious side.
The part where football mirrors society’s ills — racism, disgruntlement with life, xenophobia, income and wealth inequality. The part where football represents communities. The part where it taught a young, insecure teenager, as I once was, the fundamentals of leadership. The part where it can be used as a political instrument to mobilize thousands of people around a common nationalistic goal.
There’s much more to football than 22 (wo)men kicking a ball around for 90 minutes and the Germans always winning it at the end. And there are many, many powerful life lessons learned from seemingly mundane activities like these, if only you have the courage to suspend your disbelief, skepticism, and, more importantly, prejudices for just a moment.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I hope to momentarily lend you my eye so that we can behold this beauty together.
You Say Soccer, I Say Football will be divided into four parts. In Part 1, I will focus on the struggles, gifts, and blessings of the individual player. Topics will range from a player’s mentality, character, and reaction to failure to the challenges of retirement, mental health, the depressing side of life as a professional footballer, and more. Rumor has it that there will be a segment on Gonzalo Higuaín.
Part 2 will deal with the collective aspect of the game. What does it mean to be part of a team? Which is more important, the concerns of the collective or that of the individual? When should one be prioritized over the other? What are the responsibilities of the manager and how should (s)he manage both the group as a whole and each individual player?
In Part 3, I will talk about the fascinating intersection between football and society. What role does football play in society? How has football been used to progress various political agendas? How do the ills of society manifest themselves in football?
Finally, Part 4 is dedicated to the philosophical side of football. Given that it’s such a low-scoring game, is it fair if a team dominates the game but loses because of a last-minute deflected own-goal that was “undeserved”? What is fairness? How much should football be about theory, data, and tactics and how much should it be about raw emotion and passion? And how does Carl Jung’s theory of ‘the shadow’ relate to players?