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Tuesday, June 25
The Indiana Daily Student

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Futbol fans vs. football fans

SEVILLE, Spain – If you ask Marta Rodriguez Martinez what the three most important things are in Spanish life, she will tell you: 1. Family; 2. Sex/Food; 3. Futbol.  “We love our futbol. The boys can’t live without it.”

In Seville, Spain, there are two futbol teams that pack their stadiums every single game. The Spaniards love their futbol – there’s no denying that – but they love the sport, not just the social aspect of going to games and getting rowdy.

So much of the sports history and culture in the U.S. is surrounded by alcohol and parties.

One of the greatest boozing days is Super Bowl Sunday. Everyone gets together, gets drunk and watches the game.

Fans tailgate before watching their favorite team play, and if they don’t make it into the game, they get drunk outside while listening to it on the radio or watching it live on a nearby television.

Sports fans in the U.S. are thought of as rowdy and fun, and the JumboTron always seems to capture the drunk, half-naked guy in the front row right after it captures the shot of the toddler picking his nose on his daddy’s lap.

That’s sports to those of us from the States, but do we actually care about the game itself? 

Spaniards love their alcohol too, another well-known fact. Surprisingly though, the soccer stadium doesn’t serve alcohol and limits the food selection to hotdogs and potato chips.

Tickets, ranging in prices similar to those of a major-league baseball game, sell like hotcakes, and not only do Spanish soccer fans know about their favorite team, they know facts about every player on that team – and probably every player on pretty much every other team in the league.

And if someone is unfamiliar with the sport, it is taken as a personal offense.

“My dad would probably let me miss school if the game was on. It’s not good enough to just watch a recorded version on television,” 12-year-old Juanjo Martin Diaz said. Diaz can also reiterate not only the statistics of each player, but also several things about the personal lives of each of the players. 

As in the U.S., professional athletes and collegiate athletes are viewed as a special sort of hero in Spain. The difference is that when the Spaniards honor their “heroes,” they are honoring the heroes and the sport, and nothing more.

It’s not that soccer games aren’t a social event for Spaniards, because they definitely are. It’s that the game is more important than the socializing.

In the U.S., this fact could easily be questioned.

Take IU football, for instance: The University actually had to start closing down the tailgating fields at kick-off to encourage people to watch the game. That’s a clear indication of where American sports fans’ priorities lie.

If the reason people don’t go to a football game in the United States is because they don’t serve alcohol within the stadium, fans might want to reconsider why they are fans at all.

Is it for the sport and the players?

Or is it just an excuse to get trashed at 7 a.m. on a Saturday?

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