Madrid Football Soccer

February 14, 2011

Lover of moderation David Brooks recently wrote something about ‘whoosh’ moments, or how people experience intense elevation when at a sporting event or a concert.  He was saying that this how the modern man seeks fulfillment in place of church or prayer.

David Brooks also has a strange NY Times picture.

No city seems to understand the ‘whooshing’ effect better than Madrid, where people gather in crowds of fifteen just to have coffee.  Life is appreciated, small moments are made large, family time is valued, whatever.

With that in mind, I could not wait to go to a football soccer game here.

right before game time

Football Soccer is the Spanish deporte of choice and Madrid sports two professional teams.  One- Real Madrid- has worldwide popularity and a bank account that rivals the Yankees.  The other- Atletico- has more devoted regional popularity and a field that feels like a bigger McCoy stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.


On Saturday I landed at an Atletico game, which I lucked into by befriending someone with enchufe, or connections.

It didn’t disappoint.  Although they lost the game, the fans support their team with aggressive devotion. No one was late. No one was on a cell phone.  A few guys nervously chain-smoked throughout the game.  There was anger- real and unbridled- when things weren’t going well.  There was also joy, people hugging and sharing sunflower seeds.  It felt like an activity designed for solely for Madrid, an excuse for everyone to get together and experience something communally .

I was with James, who has season-tickets, and his little brother Louie.  Both are bilingual and were able to translate some of the profanity we heard.  Always fun to hear old guys cursing at referees.  ‘Cabron!’ (bastard) seems to be a local favorite.

Also, there is a section in the stadium where people sing for the entire ninety-minute game.  It’s not exactly chanting- it has more rhythm- and it is very strange to the outsider.  I’ve seen passionate fans.  I’ve been to Celtic playoff games.  Even went to the NCAA tournament once.  Fenway definitely has people who treat sport like a religion, but I’ve never seen people so committed to their fandom that they felt the need to sing for 105 straight minutes (including halftime) in an effort to boost morale.

They didn’t sound like Aaliyah, but it was still pretty good.



2 Responses to “Madrid Football Soccer”

  1. David Fetter said

    Excited to see Bar-se-lona at the Nou Camp

  2. Talked about Barcelona’s Messi with some of my students today. Everyone – even Real Madrid/Atletico fans- respect him. They also commented on his height (very ‘not tall’) and his physical attractivness (‘I admit he’s not good-looking.’)

    Love English language learners.

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