Between domestic violence incidents, concussions and other issues both on and off the field, there hasn’t been a lot to cheer about lately for most football fans.
Add to it that my favourite team, the Washington Redskins has been embroiled in an ongoing controversy about their name. Oh, and they are, once again pitiful on the field.
So, while the Redskins were getting stepped on by a score of 45-14 against the New York Giants last month, I decided to walk away from football.
Now, this doesn’t mean I’ve given up watching entirely, just that I have really scaled back how much time I’ve invested in following it and in its place, I’ve started following football. Or as you may call it, soccer.
This all started last spring when I found out that we would be taking a family vacation to London for my sister-in-law Laurel’s wedding, right as the Premier League season was starting up again.
Wanting to experience as much English culture as I possibly could, I quickly made up my mind that I’d have to attend a football match while across the pond.
The only issue left was that I didn’t have a team to root for.
This wasn’t as easy as I first thought, since there are six Premier League teams based in London, so I spent way too much time going through the process of deciding which team would become “my team.”
The first team I crossed off was West Ham. They play on the opposite side of London as we were staying, and have never really won anything. I’m already a Leafs fan and wanted to stay away from adding anymore misery to my life.
The next was Arsenal, who also play far from where we were staying in Maida Vale, and everyone I’ve ever met wearing anything Arsenal was kind of a jerk.
Crystal Palace have a pretty cool name, but they play far from the city centre and are always a candidate to be relegated out of the Premier League, so citing the ‘I’m already a Toronto sports fan - no new misery rule’ they were out.
Tottenham were in contention for awhile before bowing out due to their location and their historical ‘middle-of-the-packness.’
Fulham seemed like they might sneak through until they were relegated.
Queen’s Park Rangers were pretty close to us geographically, but they were just promoted, and look like they’ll be heading back to the Championship next season, so I dodged a bullet there.
So, that left Chelsea.
They were the closest team to where we were staying, a perennial contender; a nice jersey, proud history.
I know it may seem like a bandwagon jumper move, and honestly, I’m fine with that. I have been cheering for the Leafs my whole life and deserve to root for a winner.
I didn’t get to actually attend a game - Laurel and Jan’s wedding was on Saturday, Aug. 30, and every team in England played that same day - but my father-in-law Rob and I did take a stadium tour at their grounds, the historic Stamford Bridge.
And now, with Chelsea appearing to run away with the Premier League title this season, I couldn’t have made a better choice. After all the miserable Sundays spent agonizing over the Redskins, it’s a welcome relief to be able to tune in on Saturday or Sunday morning expecting a win, which is something I’ve rarely experienced with American football, plus it’s almost always wrapped up by 2 p.m. And during the week, there is the occasional Champions League game to keep me occupied.
So, if football is getting you down, don’t be afraid to look for an alternative an ocean away.