Field Research – one pint at a time

How important is geography to watching soccer?: An important lesson in spectatorship on two separate Wednesdays. I don’t need to go up to campus everyday, and so I’ve spent two Wednesdays downtown exploring the places to watch UEFA Champions League games (this was a few weeks ago as I missed today’s games).

My first try was an unfortunate choice, but at least I can chalk it up to experience. Shoeless Joe’s – which I could easily rename Hooter’s lite. The less said the better, but it is clear that its main clientele are Bay St. Lawyers with a passing interest in sports and a serious interest in women. I ended up feeling a little out of place because I wasn’t wearing a suit and sitting alone in a bar like that feels kinda pervy.

Moving on to the next week, I was free from the lawyers and tight fitting uniforms. Instead I was at the Football Factory. I think the name sets its priorities. I walked in and had the choice of seating based not on smoking or non-smoking (remember those days), but on Arsenal – Olympiakos, Man City – Borussia Dortmund, and AC Milan – Zenit St. Petersburg. This is my kind of place. Naturally, I was sitting in the Arsenal section, sipping on a Guinness and eating Bangers and Mash; I felt much more comfortable. And that is geography – I’m associating with a place.

Why do I feel more comfortable in one than the other? Cultural differences for sure. As I said before, Shoeless Joe’s catered to a particular audience and served them well, but me – with a slightly different set of priorities did not find the place as enjoyable. The Football Factory met my needs for food, drink, activity (even if I spent my time sitting on my butt) and community – complaining about Arsenal’s wage structure is a easy way to chat with gooners.

So I now have my personal “field research” plan set up: explore every bar that promotes soccer games in Toronto. That should keep me busy for a long time. Oh the sacrifices I make for science.

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