As I watch the 2016 Rio Olympics and struggle with the internal gymnastics (pun intended) of being “America, Fuck Yeah” and being UBER proud of our women's gymanstics squad while simultaneously reading the news and wanting to immigrate, I’ve found myself feeling very international. Now, that’s a pretty easy thing for me to do. Hell, I was born in Central America to a French woman and Black father, raised in Europe (Germany), and the woman of the house and mother of my sons is an immigrant from Ghana, whose father is an actual Italian.
All that to say; I like soccer.
When I was growing up in Germany I played organized soccer, sometimes awesomely, other times pretty terribly, but I’ve always been a fan. Most of the folks I grew up with in Germany (military brats) all have an appreciation for soccer. Currently, though, I only ever pay attention to soccer during the World Cup as I root for the United States Men’s National Team out of obligation and Germany because of the fond years I lived in Germany, despite the fact that German team is about as white a team as you can get. Much like the Olympics, cognitive dissonance is my oyster.
All of that is changing now. I’ve decided to follow the English Premier League this season. I know, I know. Lots of writers have taken up the mantle of doing so. In fact, as soon as I decided to do this I remembered that Bill Simmons, who sucks on television but who I owe a great debt of gratitude for helping me hone my own writing style over the years though I pretty much don’t care to ever read shit he writes again, did this very thing. I don’t remember if he’s an actual soccer fan or not, but I am so I expect this to be an exciting foray into internationalism.
But good gotdamn is it a confusing endeavor. For one, do you know how many articles there are about understanding the English Premier League? A fucking lot. And why are their uniforms called “kits”? And when I look on the website why is what I believe to be the schedule listed under what is called “fixtures”? And why the fuck does it take from August to May to play 38 games? And where is the honeycomb hideout and who shot J.R.? Ewing, not Smith. And what the shit is with the transfer rules and the way they talk about acquiring players and shit. I know we talk about sports players as modern day, REALLY well paid slaves, but man, soccer makes no bones about it. You pay the former team and the player or some shit. I don’t know. I'm just here so I don't get fined and because J. Cole went platinum with no features.
Well, since I decided to follow this league this year and try to learn about the league and feel like fans do across the world, the most important thing is to pick a team right? Right. This proved to be difficult, until it happened.
Let’s back track for a moment. Here’s my going knowledge of the EPL. There are pretty much a few teams I’m aware of because of their fanbase and apparently because they win: Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, and Liverpool. I looked them up and they’re something like the “Big Four”. I figure that since I’m trying to get into the league as a fan, I should probably pick a team that it will be somewhat easy to be a fan of, which means you pick a front-runner.
But because I’m a girl (I kid, I kid), that proved difficult for one reason: I didn’t really like any of their uniforms. Like, would I want to wear an Arsenal jersey? Not really. Samesies with the rest. Dilemma, dilemma. Well, you know who else wins a lot (except last year, they finished 10th out of 20 clubs) and who has awesome an awesome jersey?
Chelsea, a team that plays in London near the West Brompton area. So wait…they’re straight outta Brompton?
Look, I don’t know how else to say this, but I think God was WAITING on me to start following the EPL and gifted me the team Chelsea for several ignorant but totally rational reasons.
For starters, there is a dude named Jamal on the team. He’s a goalkeeper. That was the first thing that made me think I might be cooking with gas. But it gets better. Are you ready? I don’t think that you’re ready.
His last name?
There is a dude on Chelsea’s team named Jamal Blackman. Stick a fork in me; I’m done. But it gets better. Because Brazilians are arrogant as fuck, they all only have one name when they’re professional athletes. I can’t lie, I’d do that shit, too. So on this team is a dude named Willian. Not William, but Willian. That’s some Black ass shit. But not to be out done, is a dude named Kenedy. Not Kennedy, but Kenedy. That is also some Black ass shit. Both of their mamas, if they were Americans would be the mamas who had an idea, but decided to try to be unique with it, effectively requiring their children to be world class athletes to overcome the years of jokes and misspellings of their names on plaques, trophies, and certificates since why in the hell would anybody be named Willian? And you know Kenedy would get fucked the fuck up EVERY day by somebody who insisted there should be two "n"s in his name. Kanye, but some of my plaques they still say Kayne. Exactly Dwyane Wade.
Also, they have an American on the team so I can be a bit of a homer. His name is Matt. To be fair, I also have no clue how many Americans are playing in the EPL though I’m guessing not many. Yo no se. You see? I’m already speaking Spanish. Which makes no sense but is an awesome segue to the fact that there is ALSO a funly named Spaniard on the team. His name?
Just Pedro. This satisfies my unintentional racism in case I’m watching the game and accidentally say some shit like, “look at Pedro out there ballin’ like got a block” but meaning it in a racist fashion but being accurate so nobody will know that I’m a racist. Unless you have read this in which case I’m just playing!
They also have a bunch of French dudes from Africa, some Nigerians (also from Africa), and a Black dude from England named Ruben Loftus-Cheek, which satisfies the “If In America, he’d be one bougie ass negro” quotient.
Cooking? With gas, b.
I got my squad. I got my enthusiasm. And I’m ready to get the season underway. Here’s hoping that I still care about this two months from now.
But you can bet your ass that I’m getting me a Blackman jersey.
So, anybody else ready to join in for the fun of it all?