Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Łukasz Podolski, born in Gliwice, Poland, 6/4/85

So, I've been spending my days going to Nevada Smith's on Third Avenue, as I don't have cable at the new apartment yet and the European Soccer Championships are going on. Nevada's is prolly the most famous soccer bar in the city, which comes in handy because everybody knows to go there, so you get plenty of honest to goodness Spaniards watching the Spain games, real Frenchmen watching the France games, and so on and so forth. So everyday I walk into the bar and there's a different group of people and chanting and cheering on their team in their own language and it's all real cool.

Anyways, I went for the Poland/Germany game on Sunday and it was absolutely packed with lots of Germans and even more Poles and we got our hearts broken, but that's kind of beside the point. I got to thinking the other day about how I basically hide from any organized attempts at nationalism (in college for example, no matter how many times someone told me about the Polish Club on campus, even people I didn't hate, it was absolutely the last thing I wanted to be a part of), soccer completely brings it out of me. I was singing the Polish national anthem with the rest of the fans before the game (and booing the German one, ha!) at the top of my lungs and during it I was absolutely living and dying with every kick. And I've never really questioned why, despite the fact that I've avoided all my adult life association with people based purely on nationality, it seems so natural to throw that out the window during a soccer match.

And it won't be all that much different when Poland plays, for example, Croatia. There will still be chanting and singing and passion. But against Germany, man, that was some other shit. As ridiculous as it seems to my rational, liberal self that in 2008 I should hold some hatred against Germany for past events, there was no way I couldn't think about invasions and massacres and occupations. And those are some ugly thoughts to have, sure, but at the same time, there's something oddly comforting (and, at the same time, adrenaline raising) about reconnecting with history, ugly as it may be.

I talked to some Germans after the match, not about nationalism and Nazis or anything, of course, but about soccer, and it was perfectly pleasant. And I didn't even call any of my German friends to yell at them this time. So, you know, I've survived. And I heartily recommend coming down to Nevada's with me sometime in the next 2 weeks, even if you're a neutral or not a soccer fan. Good times to be had.

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