Tomorrow I will be watching the DFB-Pokalfinales live from Berlin…on ESPN3 on my laptop. Apparently no US broadcaster found the German Cup Final to be interesting. I’m not that surprised, as I haven’t been able to watch a Pokal match on broadcast all year. To be fair, I will be able to watch it in Spanish on ESPN Desportes, delayed by eight hours.
“But wait! You’re an American! Did you grow up somewhere else? Somewhere…soccerish?” No, I didn’t. I’m here to say that anyone can become a fan of any sport or team in very short order, given access and incentive.
The incentive towards soccer came when I was a bit disgusted with rugby last September. I had refereed rugby for 13 years and wanted to try something new. I took an AYSO course, got a yellow and black shirt and I was off. Except for one fact: I played soccer for three years in the 70s, and remembered little. So time for a scan of my TWC channel listings.
So, the access. You can’t watch much soccer on the standard cable package. Big games now and then on Fox Sports 1. I wanted to see matches on Bein Sports and GOLTV. I was to discover that Bein (and Fox Soccer) required a special $9 package. That sufficed for a month or two with Spanish and English soccer galore.
I had a second incentive. I intend to live in Germany within the next five years, so why not watch German soccer? The problem here was that the Bundesliga was licensed to GOLTV. That was another $9 “Spanish Language” package, even though the matches were broadcast in English. There’s a reason why TWC is the second most hated company in America.
In December I was watching German fußball for the first time. Now, six months later, I am breathlessly awaiting the final match of the season. How was it accomplished?
- Forsake all others – I follow the SF Giants and Irish Rugby. Not many Giants games on in LA, so no conflict there. Irish Rugby was an issue and I did watch three Six Nations matches. This was, however, a bit of a downgrade from all of the Munster, Leinster, Ulster and Connacht matches that were now available to me.
- Pick your team – at first I watched a few matches and thought that Bayern München was my team. Subsequent discussions with relatives in Germany and German friends here stopped that slow forming love affair very quickly. It was Dortmund or nothing.
- Watch and learn – when I started watching Borussia Dortmund they were at the bottom of the table facing relegation. The drama of each match was intense. Within two months I knew every player on the roster and their position.
- Get social – I’ve joined the Borussia Dortmund Reddit Group, follow the team on Facebook and often call my Brother-in-law in Westphalia after a match. I won’t see a match in Dortmund anytime soon, but today it’s possible to be a virtual fan.
After tomorrow, it will be the Women’s World Cup for a few months. Only something to pass the time until the Fall. This time a full season with a new coach and new players.