A Yank Discovers English Football (Not Soccer)

Joe OneillCorrespondent IIDecember 11, 2008

What's an American sports fan to do? Sick of the overinflated salaries of NBA, MLB, and NFL players? Tired of the tawdry gossip and seemingly new felony committed each week? Had enough of hearing about A-Rod and Madonna or Derek Jeter and "strumpet to be named?"

Well then Yank, welcome to the world of English Premier League Football.

I discovered 'the beautiful game' about five years ago purely by accident. I switched on Fox Sports and Liverpool happened to be playing. The only thing I know about Liverpool is that's where the Beatles are from (and I'm a huge Beatles fan).

I started tuning into games with Liverpool playing out our curiosity at first...but then because I genuinely grew to like the team. One player in particular caught my eye...the irreplaceable Steven Gerrard. A guy who looks like he should be in biology class rather than playing football at an elite level.

So let me list, dear reader, why you should drop out and tune-in to the world known as English Premier League Football.

First, I know next to nothing about any of the players. I think they make a lot of money, but I can't be sure. Once in awhile I might hear something like, "VanNistelrooy is set to transfer to Real Madrid for 47 million pounds." What does that mean?

Being an American, I'm naturally oblivious to any foreign currency or conversion. I don't have a clue what a transfer is, either. I think it's like a trade, but can't be sure. Is a pound worth more than dollar (probably not)? I've never been to England but I'm pretty sure they still ride in horse-drawn carriages, wear kilts, plow fields, and drink a lot of beer.

Have you ever read a British football book? Try it sometime. Check out this passage from a great writer on Bleacher Report, Andrew McNair, "The Madrid side's sudden interest in Scottish Premier League obviously woke up their greatest rivals, Barcelona, as it is now the Catalan side being linked to a young starlet from Scotland's top flight."

I have no idea what he's talking about. I think someone in Spain is dating a model.

Sometimes it pays to be clueless. It adds a bit of mystery to the entire thing. 

English fans are the most passionate fans on the planet. Think of Boston Red Sox fans hopped up on six cups of espresso, a case of Red Bull,  six pints of beer, and singing the entire time. There, you've got English fans. They sing and they hug and they're drunk. I don't know the lyrics to one song except the Star Spangled Banner. They know hundreds of songs about their club. All I've got is "USA! USA! USA!"

Loyalty. English fans support their local clubs to a fault. Kiera Knightley is a West Ham Supporter (think Los Angeles Clippers) and she's proud of it! She doesn't jump ship and support Manchester United or Chelsea.

England is, like, the size of Oregon and they've got hundreds of football teams. Where you're born determines who you root for—end of story. All these 'sudden' fans of Red Sox nation. Wouldn't happen in England.

The announcers are really cool. I don't know who they are, an old Scottish guy and an old British guy, I think. They've got those great accents and their commentary of games is poetic. They're sharp and witty and funny as hell. Maybe the only US announcer that comes close is Vin Scully. Two minutes of Dick Vitale and I'm reaching for the mute button. These guys actually sound intelligent which is a far cry from any NFL announcer.

They call it "football." Someone please, please, give me a reason why American football is called "football?" Nobody has ever given me a valid explanation. The entire world calls it football and we call it soccer? Bollocks!

Sure, the game isn't perfect. They've got those stupid advertisements on their front of their jerseys. For two years, I thought I was watching Vodafone rather than Arsenal. Too often the games are 1-0. Other than that, not much to complain about.

So, dear reader, switch off that Thunder - Bobcats game and tune into some Premier League. You'll be happy you did.