More Than a Game – Real Oviedo v Real Madrid `C

More Than a Game – Real Oviedo v Real Madrid `C.

Beyond my little academic world that I sit in, there is a whole world of soccer out there. One of the blogs I follow has become involved in a campaign to save Real Oviedo (a team in Spanish Segunda B – their 3rd division) from insolvency. Gambetta Football has told its followers how to invest in Real Oviedo, and then to further their support has enlisted the help of a Real Oviedo fan to provide match reports in English.

This is a great read from a truly passionate fan. It also includes a map of the world and all the countries where people who have donated to Real Oviedo come from.

As for its connection to my current research, the singing at 19:26, to commemorate the year of the club’s founding reminds me of the Danny Dichio song that TFC sings in the 24th minute. The ritualization of the club’s history into the performance of the fans just goes to strengthen the bonds between fans and club and has the bonus effect of helping to exert the team fan’s dominance over the soundscape of the stadium.

The good news story of the article is that Real Madrid has invested €100,000 in the team and that the opposition that Real Oviedo faced today was none other than Real Madrid ‘C’.

Update: Buenas Suerte Real Oviedo, because I’m a part-owner now.

Epiphany!

Last week I had a meeting with my committee to sit down and sort out what I was going to do and how. The purpose was to narrow down what I was going to investigate and start thinking about research questions. After about 5 minutes it was clear that my project was getting bigger, not smaller. On the upside, I think I’ve found that I could keep writing on this for the rest of my life, the downside is that I was left with almost more options than when I started. So we finally left it at me needing to get a proposal together for next week that will give me a focus, a question, and hopefully a way of answering the question.

How to do this has been gnawing at me all week, what to do is just as bad. I admit part of my difficulty is that I had temporarily lost my sounding board – my wife. She puts up with all my babbling about soccer, so is actually a good judge of whether I’m on the right track or not. She also understands academic angst. Sure enough, she got home from a conference and before we’d even had a chance to talk my mind was already working out a bit of an idea.

So today, I sat down to read an article from a journal that I think is pretty relevant to my research: Soccer & Society. (My secret goal is to get published in it) I was reading an article about interpreting fan rivalries and it basically provided an overview of what had been done and what needed to be done, and how to do it. There I was sitting in my office reading away, and my thesis was staring out at me from the paper! All I was missing was the chorus and the light from above as I read it. I’ll paraphrase it a bit here, but basically: “Somebody should really look at how fan rivalries contest space and defend territory by looking at the frequency of the conflicts and the historical roots of the rivalry – that would be some interesting research.” Admittedly, I need to work on my academic-ese, but that is one of the questions that I was discussing with my committee and then there it was sitting in a journal for me. Ta-Dah!

The biggest question I’m left with now is where? My committee and I agreed that England is probably best just to remove the language barrier consideration (and there are some top-notch rivalries there), but now that puts a different constraint on my fieldwork. If I’m going to look at fan rivalries, I’ve got to got to some games, preferably some good rivalries, and it has to happen this summer. Hmmm. Season ends in May (which also makes the rivalries most critical at that time of year with all the promotion/relegation battles), so working backwards, I have to go through ethics review by no later than mid-March, meaning I have my proposal late Feb., meaning I’ve got to have the basics and a good question now. I’m leaning right now toward Preston North End and Blackburn, but I  don’t think they will be playing each other this year, my only hope is that one of those sides is facing promotion/relegation while I’m over there. I think what is ultimately going to determine my choice is a good look at the fixture lists for May. Premiership would be great, but expensive and big. Championship could be interesting with less of a global element, and I’d even consider League 1 or 2 if the right combination of teams and fixtures came along. So my job tomorrow is to plot out all the games in the top four flights of English soccer during the month of May (playoffs excluded for the moment, but that may factor in later depending on how things pan out).

An idea and now the beginnings of a plan.

Saturday Schadenfreude

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Saturday morning had me and Marcus in front of the TV at 7:30 to watch the Arsenal – Chelsea match. It was a chance for me to see if Arsenal were going to compete this year or not. After two poorly defended set piece goals, no I don’t have high hopes for them this season, but at least the open play during the rest of the game was okay. I wasn’t surprised, having recently shown my colours by putting up an Arsenal poster in my office at York. Fate you can be cruel at times. I love the above Studs Up cartoon because it so perfectly encapsulates sport: picking a winner is too easy, true joy and ecstasy come from having to suffer through countless losses so that you team can finally get to the top – only to muck it up at the last possible moment (Jens Lehmann’s red card in the Champions League 2006 final springs to mind).

Not many things could have cheered me up after that loss, but then the late game happened. I didn’t even get to see it – Marcus had another soccer tryout, but just to know from my phone that Man U had lost to Tottenham gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. Being a fan is all about suffering: either your own, or your enjoyment of someone else’s.