Tuesday 2 July 2019

Why I Stopped Watching Football

Last week the married folk of Britain were temporarily distracted from their problems by the news that a married woman had been arrested and kept in the cells for nagging her husband.

The Daily Mail did not inform its extensive readership whether or not the woman was forced into the Scold's Bridle, but it did tell us that the husband was a keen bodybuilder and a former prison guard who had a job at a gym and was, thanks to the nagging, suicidally depressed. It also said that his wife harangued him to spend less time working out, to help out more around the house, and to stop shopping at Aldi and Lidl.

This last point suggests she was a snob as well as a nag because, insanely, where you buy your groceries is a so-called Class Indicator here in the UK. At any rate, the husband told the folks at the Job Centre that he was depressed because of his wife's incessant nagging, and they called the police. It was a second marriage for both, and it unofficially ended when the wife was arrested.

Incidentally, the woman (58) is now seeing a chap 25 years younger than herself, a newly discovered detail that has made me laugh aloud.

However, domestic abuse itself is not funny, and there are definitely non-physical ways of abusing someone, some of which are now illegal in the UK. The "nagging wife" was charged with "controlling behaviour." Well, I was once involved with someone who did his level best to control me, and that was not funny, either.

But this is not about me-as-victim/survivor, but about me as potential abuser because of one of my habits that got out of control. The habit was football, and this is not a story I'm proud of. I used to wonder what kind of person would hit his wife because "his" team lost the Super Bowl, and now I'm pretty sure I know.

In short, I started watching football (which means soccer if you live in North America) in 2006, the summer I was studying German in Frankfurt-am-Main. Germany was hosting the FIFA World Cup, and everyone in the seminary where I was living watched all the German (DFB) games and quite a few of the others. To this day I still think of the German words first when I think about football.  (Surely a Tormann is not called a goalie in Scotland? Keeper? Netminder?)

It was a great way to be introduced to the Beautiful Game.  I watched some matches on giant screens set up in the Main River  for the vast crowds watching on the banks and others in the seminary Fernseherraum. When I got back to Boston I barely passed the departmental German exam; it was a passage about Karl Rahner, who was not a footballer.

I bought a DFB shirt and tried to watch any DFB game that occurred after that, wherever I was, and I was the sort of DFB fan who would walk down to Toronto's Little Portugal, in her DFB shirt, to see how the Portugal fans were taking their defeat at the hands (or, to be precise, feet) of Klose, Schweinie and the gang. (Badly.)

But this all ended on July 7, 2010 when Argentina beat Germany 1-0, knocking them out of the FIFA Weltmeisterschaft. To make a long and confused story short and simple, I realised that my blinding rage at both my husband and my visiting mother for not properly understanding how truly terrible this event was, was even worse. Watching DFB games turned me into a potential monster, and I had to quit. With the exception of one or two Edinburgh Hibernians games and one incident of Dundee vs Wrocław, I quit watching football altogether.

This means, of course, that I missed the emotional pinnacle of the DFB's FIFA 2014 win, which must have been simply amazing. However, alcoholics have to pass up on endless jollifications, so the DFB's new star was a small price to pay for not becoming the kind of person who hits his/her spouse because the spouse knows nothing about football and pretends to care when your team loses.

I asked Benedict Ambrose what he has given up since getting married and he only slightly dolefully pointed out that we no longer have a television. He doesn't really mind, though, as we watch shows over my computer instead. (We certainly watch fewer than we did.)

B.A. is also giving up not-having-a-dog, he pointed out. Originally he really did not want a dog, but by this April I was so utterly frantic about being childless, pet less and having nothing and no-one small to take care of and be loved by, I said we had to have one. Now, thank goodness, he is looking forward to dog ownership, mainly because he likes Border Terriers. (So badly did I want a dog, I left up breed and choice of name to him, which is why we are not getting a Bichon Frise named Bernie.) In the meantime I have Horace, who is a parlour palm.

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