Now that I’ve achieved black belt status as a passport ninja and returned to São Paulo with a 3rd passport, it’s time to begin the next step in my Brazilian immersion. It’s time to do my best Paulista impersonation and go all in on living like a local, which means it’s time for me to dive into Brazilian Soccer and pledge my allegiance to one of the country’s dozens of squads.
But before we embark on the journey of choosing my Brazilian soccer team, it’s important that I explain where I’m coming from as a fan, where my loyalties lie in other sports, and why I’m seeking refuge in the Brazilian league, also known as the Brasilerão.
First, let me introduce you to my teams:
The Knicks. The Jets. The Mets. The Miami Hurricanes.
What do they have in common? Well, for one, they all rhyme with misery. Life-shortening, perpetual, misery. They also taste of defeat, and stink up the court/field. I was born into the first three, being from Queens, NY, and am a graduate of the last, The University of Miami, Class of ’01. I mention this because there’s a higher level of comfort with sports fan misery when you know you never had much of a choice to begin with in the matter, and my case definitely applies.
To quote the great Roger Waters, whose “The Wall” show in São Paulo earlier this month momentarily took my mind off the current state of affairs of my favorite teams, you become comfortably numb, with a diminishing rate of return (or in this case, pain) for each subsequent mishap.
The Hurricanes at least have the distinction of having won something in the 21st century (2001-02 National Champions).
The Mets? Haven’t won it all since Bill Buckner did his thing in 1986.
The Knicks? 1973.
The Jets? 1969.
Not to mention that their most hated rivals, almost all in-town or in-state, have been much more successful than them in recent years, if not always.
It’s bad enough when you’re not talented or successful, but watching your big brothers outdo you in everything? It’s like being Danny Devito in “Twins”, or Frank Stallone on any day of the year. Being Bono’s brother, whatever his name is, or doing a shot of Russian Cocaine, without the upside of the tequila. Stubbing your toe on the side of the bed in the morning comes to mind as well.
In fact, there are days where I wonder if my relatively healthy lifestyle is enough to keep the collective train wreck of the Knicks/Jets/Mets/Hurricanes from shaving years off my life.
But aside from the fact that my most loved squads are killjoys, being in Brazil for the last year (and following them all via my feeds, podcasts and dubbed TV) has made me realize that you can’t replace the experience of being in the The States and fully partaking in the pulse surrounding the NFL, NCAA Football, the NBA and MLB.
So what’s a sports fan, starving for a mutually rewarding relationship with any one of his teams, to do? The same thing I did at Caesars Palace when my blackjack show started off bad: Play two hands at once.
And what better way to do that, at this very moment, than to go all-in on the most popular sport in the world, which happens to be practiced and followed religiously in the country I currently call home? Yup, it’s time to play my luck as a torcedor in Brazilian Soccer, or as they call it here, futebol.
Before we begin though, let’s get the disclaimers out-of-the-way:
Even by U.S. standards, I’m not the most knowledgeable soccer fan in the world. Having said that, it should come as no surprise that given my Latin American/Spanish descent, I AM a fan.
I destroyed the World Cup in 2006, correctly predicted 13 of the 16 qualifiers with my patent-pending revolutionary system, attended Ecuador’s historic 3-0 victory over Costa Rica in Hamburg, and witnessed The U.S. lose to Ghana in an elimination game in Nuremburg. I partied in the World Cup village with Brazilians (below), Ecuadorians and Germans, and even threw out my own karaoke rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody.
I’m also a Real Madrid, Emelec, Peñarol and Red Bulls follower, and I fully back The USA, Spain and Ecuador national teams in international competition (in that order, if you’re wondering), so Brazilian Soccer will be a natural segue for me as I enter my 2nd year of full immersion in São Paulo.
But how does one go about choosing a team these days? Or at anytime really?
That topic deserves a post of its own and will rightfully get one in Part II of Decisão 2012. Stay tuned.
In the mean time, who do YOU think I should choose? Why?
Post a comment below making a case for your team (or against another).