Participant Observation?

I’ve found the potential downfall to my academic research, it will likely be the largest obstacle I face in my field research and I’m not sure how I can approach this difficulty: watching a match.

Last night I watch the Canada vs Cuba game at BMO Field in Toronto. Canada won 3-0, but as I walked out of the stadium I realized that actually being at a game will be a very difficult complication for me if I study fan behaviour – I was totally lost in the match. I’m sure Marcus is slightly embarrassed to have to sit with his dad who yells and screams at the Canadians for 90 minutes, boos the linesmen and ref at appropriate moments and heckles the opposition as they lie on the ground or make the long march to the tunnel following their red card. Once upon a time I was a reserved quiet fan who only made a lot of noise when we scored, but over the last two years of the qualifying campaign I’ve turned rabid. I have become my own research. I’m interested in fan behaviour, but I have become one. Granted I don’t sit in the South End with the Red Patch Boys, but my heart is there.

I’ve noticed the crowd has changed with me over the last two years too. Back when we were playing minnows like St. Lucia, the crowd was smaller, the visitors had vocal support and the team played more tentatively. This year was very different, the team soaked up our encouragement and payed it back at the end, they celebrated playing at home and knew they could count on us to drown out all the visitor supporters. I want next year to have meaningful games, we’ve come so far as fans in Toronto, I don’t want to have to wait and start all over again.

But this brings up the games yesterday. Canada won 3-0 yes, but that was hardly a surprise when all the Cuban subs defected to the US, leaving them with just 11 players on a team that hadn’t scored a goal in the qualifying round and hadn’t even managed a tie. So we won, that should have helped right? Problem is that when Cuba is such a pushover, all the teams have feasted off of them and it hardly made a difference to the pool. More troubling was the 0-0 tie between Panama and Honduras. The conspiracy theorist in me can’t help but think that the tie was planned. Panama plays Cuba next and needs only to draw to qualify, Honduras hosts Canada on Tuesday and the result will determine the group. By drawing Panama, Honduras just needs to win, where if they had lost to Panama they would have needed to beat Canada by at least two goals. Panama just gifted Honduras a lifeline. Oh and Canada will have to get a tie without not only Dwayne DeRosario, but also Olivier Occean (who was given a weak red card by the ref last night).

As you can see I’ve already spent far too long thinking about all the permutations and combinations in qualification. I should actually be devoting my thoughts to midterm papers and readings.

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