Monday, August 29, 2011

Philosophy and football III

The first summer I spent in the United States I watched a lot of baseball, trying to get into America's favorite game. It didn't work, although I retain my fondness for the Cubs. My attempts to like basketball have been more successful, but I hardly ever watch it any more. My three favorite sports are the three great kinds of football: association, American, and fantasy. (Australian, Gaelic, and rugby football will have to wait for another life.)

Anyway, if you haven't tried association football (aka soccer) yet, now might be the time to do so. It's early in the English season, but it looks as though this year's league might be dominated by two teams from Manchester, each of which is exceptionally good. They beat two of the best other teams in the country this weekend by a combined score of  13 - 3. Not bad.

It's much more fun if you care who wins, though, so here's a quick rundown of who to support (in order of where they stand currently):

  1. Manchester United: lovingly described by Stephen Mulhall, the team was brilliant and young when it was almost wiped out in a plane crash in 1958, then re-built to win the European Cup in 1968, then went bad, bounced back, and has since won the European Cup (or Champions League) twice more, in 1999 and 2008. The current team is once again very young and they play like puppies, full of energy and the unexpected.  
  2. Manchester City: popular with A. W. Moore and Oasis, the team has been great and terrible at times, but is now better than ever, thanks to an enormous (and almost inexplicable) injection of funds from Abu Dhabi
  3. Liverpool: were very good in the '70s and '80s. Also famous for disasters at Heysel and Hillsborough
  4. Chelsea: plaything of the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich 
  5. Wolverhampton Wanderers: former team of "God's footballer," Peter Knowles
  6. Newcastle: famous for its beer and beer-drinkers. Possibly a good choice if you like Thom Brooks
  7. Aston Villa: just dull. 
  8. Wigan: a good choice for fans of George Orwell, perhaps
  9. Stoke: once home to Lemmy and Slash, now associated with ultra-English (i.e. crude) tactics and politics
  10. Bolton: notlob backwards
  11. Everton: the other team from Liverpool
  12. Queen's Park Rangers: popular (I think) with the band Bush
  13. Sunderland: "Your Body is a Wonderland" is a song. "Your body is a Sunderland" would be an insult
  14. Norwich: good for fans of drunk TV chefs, W.G. Sebald, and the excellent philosophy department at UEA 
  15. Swansea: an obvious choice for Wittgensteinians 
  16. Fulham: popular with Lily Allen, Hugh Grant, and fans of Michael Jackson statues
  17. Arsenal: Nick Hornby
  18. West Bromwich Albion: rivals of Aston Villa
  19. Blackburn: good if you like holes 
  20. Tottenham: memorably used to explain the concept of purgatory in the film In Bruges 
Finally, some showing to go with all this saying:

The puppies beat the nouveau riche hirelings that day, but we'll have to wait till May to see who wins in the end. 

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