A game of Spanish f??tbol

Posted by Julia Leef

Saludos!

I hope things are starting to warm up in Saratoga, and hopefully aren't as wet as they are here in Spain. Apparently, this is the most rain the country has ever gotten at since they started recording the weather seventy years ago, more than tripling the last record. Good to know there really is no escaping New York weather.

As the Yankee fans among my friends lament, I am a proud Boston Red Sox supporter and enjoy watching or participating in the occasional baseball game. I played in the Little League when I was younger and was on the softball team until high school. I used to argue with a friend of mine of Colombian origin, about which sport was better-baseball or soccer.

Well, when another friend from Colombia came to visit me in Spain, we decided to see a soccer (or f??tbol, as the sport is called in almost every country except in the United States) match this past weekend. It was my first time seeing a live soccer game-an essential experience for any student studying in Spain.

And... I still think baseball is better. However, f??tbol has its own merits, as some of its qualities are unrivaled by any other sports game I've attended.

The match that we attended was between Real Madrid and Levante The rivalry between these teams is not as big as the one between Real Madrid and Barcelona, but the crowd was still pretty riled up.

And that, for me, was the most appealing part about watching the game. The fans are so incredibly responsive to anything and everything the players do. Like in any sport, they cheer and chant at random intervals, rooting their team on as the players run across the field. A group of fans even brought a drum with them, which reverberated throughout the stadium as they sang and waved giant team flags over their heads.

But it's not just the goals or a particularly tricky pass that sparks their reactions, although those outbursts are something to behold. They applaud and encourage their team at any given moment-whether a goal has just been missed or a player has intercepted the ball. In baseball, the crowd will give a little smattering of mild applause if the pitcher manages to strike someone out. But Spaniards cheer as if every move is a home run.

They get angry too. Very angry. When Levante scored the first goal of the game, there was plenty of cursing and yelling directed at the few non-Madrid fans brave enough to cheer. One man sitting two rows below me treated this offense as though it was a deeply personal insult made against his entire family. But you should have seen his face whenever Madrid scored. I don't think he would have been happier if he had won the lottery.

And that's what I think I liked most about watching this game and being a part of that crowd. It wasn't an important game, not part of the World Cup or against a superior team in the division, but everyone treated it as if it was. Fans of all ages, from small children brought by proud parents to elderly folks who've probably seen it a hundred times cheered as though it was their first match. Everyone was happy and excited from start to finish, and when Madrid scored its fifth goal against Levante's single one, they cheered as if their team had just come from behind in a miraculous sweep that took them straight to the championship.

Having had the experience, I'd still much rather watch a baseball game on television than I would f??tbol. But in terms of the crowd? Sorry, America, but Spain has you beat.

Un abrazo,
Julia

Women's lacrosse falls to Amherst

Small Jazz Ensembles to play at Cafe Lena