when you’re not supposed to be a football fan

Grigoris Makos making good use of his time while injured

Was in a conversation recently with a few American friends, and as I’m also one (an American) I found myself getting hot and bothered about some ridiculous assumption these two friends of mine were making about being a Yankee abroad.

Their contention was that being a football fan while living in Europe is an affect. A transparent attempt to fit in with the locals, but one that makes me look like I’m pretending. This of course disregards the 70s and the renaissance of soccer at both the professional level and among kids in the Land of the Brave/Home of the Free. But for the sake of argument, let’s say I have no business following football.

I didn’t grow up in a rough and tumble inner-city neighbourhood of Manchester or Marseilles. My father and his father haven’t  supported a club since time immemorial. I’ve written about it on this miscellaneous blog before, but my family were into baseball. That’s what I was raised watching.

Cincinnati Red Stockings

When I was in music school in Cincinnati, I knew a South African who became a passionate Cincinnati Reds fan. He was obsessed. Although he hadn’t grown up watching it, he had learned the terminology and understood some of the incomprehensible rules that baffle most outsiders.

And unlike his fellow exchange students, who went to school in a faraway land and clinged to the others of their tribe who were similarly so displaced, this guy really got to know the natives. He was welcomed into the fold in a way that few outsiders ever would be.

Did I consider this guy and his experiences when I moved to Germany? Not consciously. Not in a way that I would’ve verbalised. However, I did want to get to know the culture from within.

 

I do want to distinguish myself from the typical ex-pat. Who wouldn’t? Many people live in a foreign country as if they’re doing time in prison. They have satellite television, so they can live in a little bubble that reminds them of home. They have contact with the locals, but on their terms when they feel like it.

It’s a beautiful thing.

So I thought I’d share with you, my loyal readers, my match report and assessment of my team’s season up until now. Is it inappropriate for me to become increasingly more and more obsessed with this football team? Probably.

We lived in Munich when I was a small child, and the neighbourhood where we went to church was down south of the city on a hill above the Tierpark. When I moved to Bavaria in 2001, it was strangely like I was finally coming home.

When you ride the Trambahn down to Church of the Ascension in Munich-Harlaching, you go right by the 1860 Munich training grounds. As they say amongst the fans of my club, ‘Einmal Löwe immer Löwe‘ (once a Lion, always a Lion). The mascot of both the city and the traditional football team is the lion, and you see lions all over the paraphernalia of the club.

Ok, enough build up. Here’s my piece at The Munich Eye:

1860 Munich victorious in Upper Bavarian Derby.

six months at The Munich Times and then The Munich Eye

This week at enemy grounds in Ingolstadt
  • People hear again and again that print journalism is dead, but when it comes right down to it, some people just want to hold the paper in their hands.
  • You’d think that being a journalist opened doors for you, but often the worst thing you can do is say, ‘I write for a newspaper.‘ (I knew this one already, because I’ve been working for my wife’s journalist office for a decade now…however, I’ve seen it repeatedly while researching my own stories in the last six months – no one wants to talk to a journo. Unless they’re in PR and in that case they have nothing I really want to hear.)
  • Being a professional journalist sounds impressive, but it isn’t. Writing for The Guardian means something in my book. Having been published by some two bit publication? Not so much. Over the last half year, I’ve heard repeatedly, ‘He’s a professional journalist.‘ You know what that means? He says he’s a professional journalist. Nothing more. It’s a real profession, but very few people are making a living at it. Very. Very. Few.
  • Some say the future of news journalism is at the hands of bloggers. I certainly hope not. Don’t get me wrong. I love reading blogs and write a few myself, but do I really want Lucy’s Football giving me analysis on the European Debt Crisis? She can’t handle her debt crisis.
  • The Münchner Merkur isn’t a bad paper. I had no idea how well written it was and have used it as a gold mine to find ideas for stories. I’m still a snob about reading the Süddeutsche, but my horizons have expanded to include news source at which I’d previously scoffed.

The last week has been mostly about the Oktoberfest here in Munich on the old Miscellaneous Blog de Lahikmajoe. I’ll be getting back to that soon enough.

Realised this week that I joined my paper (then The Munich Times, whose name I preferred, and later The Munich Eye) exactly six months ago. What a way to celebrate the half anniversary, right? With an assessment of what I’ve learned.

Here’s to another six months of sometimes quality writing and covering the news and events going on in Bavaria’s capital. Hope you’ll be along for the ride.

German baseballers go for glory

Here’s Douglas Sutton‘s article in The Munich Eye about baseball in Germany:

German baseballers go for glory.

Thanks Douglas. Great article.

You didn’t even know we had baseball over here, did you? I’ve written about the game before, because I associate it with both my dad and my Nana. It’s one of the only things I miss about living in the US.

Play ball!

forgiving the unforgivable

20120908-114932.jpg
soldiers responsible for the flags at the memorial for the murdered athletes and coaches of the Israeli Olympic Team

One never knows what people will like. My last blogpost was one I’d saved, because although I thought it was morbid and dark, I thought it’d spur some conversation. Not in the least.

Amy over at Lucy’s Football commented on it, but she’d comment on me cutting and pasting swaths of the phone book. She’s on my team. Getting her into the conversation is sort of a given.

Why did I even go as negative as I did in Five things to harass the Dying? Well, believe it or not, there was method to my madness. I knew I’d be going to the ceremony commemorating the fortieth anniversary of the attacks at the 1972 Munich Olympics that day.

When I was having my first cup of tea that morning, I really pondered what it must’ve been like to be a family member of one of the slain Israeli athletes. Could I really forgive what was done in the name of making a political statement? If the people who perpetrated the crime never apologised or even saw that what they’d done was wrong, then how could forgiveness even be a topic under discussion?

I suppose the forgiveness is part of what’s slowly happening between the Jewish people and the German State. Think about it for a second, will you?

Your people were murdered in the millions in a methodical manner during a war that somehow engulfed most of the planet. Then nearly thirty years later the international community watches as your citizens are brutally murdered in the same country in which those wartime atrocities had taken place. How would you feel?

I know it’s very popular to criticise Israel, especially on the left, and I won’t begin to defend the way the present day Palestinians are being treated. It’s a travesty. Full stop. However, when I look at the way the Israeli citizens are treated in very symbolic ways, I can’t help but feel that there is some sort of prevailing anti-semitism on the world stage.

When the two athletes were killed at 31 Connolly Straße in the Olympic Village in Munich in the early morning hours of 5 September 1972, the world watched as those in control of the Olympics decided that the show must go on. Really? Two athletes had died at the hands of terrorists.

Because of enough of an outcry the Games were halted on that day while the police tried to figure out the best way to handle the situation. It was only much later that night that the remaining members of the team (both athletes and coaches), as well as one West German police officer, were killed by the terrorists.

Well,‘ you ask,’Certainly, they stopped the Games then, didn’t they?

You know where this is going, right? After what was deemed a suitable period of honorable waiting, the Olympics went on. The prevailing wisdom was that stopping the event would be letting the terrorists win. Twelve people had been murdered at the Olympics, and the Israeli government should somehow be grateful that there was a memorial service for those who were killed. I don’t think that’s how they saw it. Am pretty certain they saw it very differently.

I’m prepared for preposterous comments here as a result of this topic. Please be warned that I’ll delete any ridiculousness. If you can’t be civil, go somewhere else. I’ve got little, if any,time for nonsense. Really, I don’t.

Here’s what I wrote about in The Munich Eye after attending the memorial: Flags at half staff for the victims of the 1972 attacks. Notice how respectfully I tried to deal with it without getting overly political. Of course, I’m aware I could be emotional on the topic. I decided my blog was where I’d make my editorial comments.

under some of our noses

our future readers

I was frustrated last month at how little time my new job was allowing me for blogging. Ridiculous, eh? Here I have this great opportunity to help start an English-language weekly newspaper in Munich, and I’m worried about my little, personal site.

Here’s the thing, though. It needn’t be either/or. I could focus all of my energy on the paper, like I did for most of July and the beginning of August, or I could keep working diligently for The Munich Eye and mine that site for topics to be used over here.

That was how I originally envisioned it, after all. When I first talked to William Smyth, the editor of The Munich Eye (formerly The Munich Times), I thought I’d be doing a bit of writing for this fledgling startup. What a thought. For years, I’d been selling articles here and there. An article about tea on one website. A list about Die 10 einflussreichsten Songwriter, die kaum jemand kennt (The ten most influential songwriters you’ve probably never heard of was my original English title) on another one.

Yet, here was a chance to write regularly for a publication nearby. I wasn’t going to miss out on this opportunity. Little did I know what was in store for me. Nearly five months later, I still have no idea how good this thing could become.

Starting in early July, we went into print and each week we attracted more attention. Writers and photographers came out of the woodwork. People we didn’t even know existed were here under our noses all along. Well, not literally. It’s not very safe under our noses. Allergies and all.