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Posted by Kyla Pigoni at 3:42PM   |  Add a comment
Jennifer Jordan at a Spanish football game

 By Jennifer Jordan, '15

This past Saturday night I found myself in a place of worship at my first true sporting event. A group of friends and I decided to brave the freezing (for Barcelona anyway) weather and attend the Barcelona vs. Seville soccer game. The atmosphere of the countless football games, basketball games, and various other sporting events I have been to in the past could not compare to the electric, focused environment in the Camp Nou stadium. I expected to experience a new level of fan devotion due to the Spaniard obsession with soccer, but it manifested itself in a surprising way.

Rather than a conglomeration of people on their feet screaming obscenities and cheering during the whole game, people were relatively calm, focusing all their energy on watching the athletic gods on the field. They carried on soft conversations amongst each other, usually without peeling their eyes away from the action on the turf. There were not any audience games like the “Kiss Cam” or dance contests that are so common at American sporting events to distract from the game. The stadium remained fairly quiet; only when the swift-footed, Catalan players took a tumble was there a collective clamoring of discontent—that is until Barça scored.

When that long-awaited moment happened where the soccer ball went soaring into the net, the entire crowded suddenly leapt up, whistling, clapping, and roaring their happiness for the team they consider part of their families. Although the feeling of unity and team pride was strongest after each score, there was a section near the field that acted as the cheerleaders throughout the game, waving the Catalan flag and leading the chants that every person—except for the tourists—knew by heart. I was struck by the strong sense of Catalan (not Spanish) nationalism that the fans had and found myself admiring the Catalan ability to preserve their culture in spite of a repressive dictatorship and efforts since that time to unify Spain and Spanish culture.

The biggest difference between this soccer game and just about every other major sporting event in the U.S. was that people were actually there to watch the game, not pig out on fried, cheesy, over-priced delicacies. For example, this past summer I went to a Texas Ranger’s baseball game and watched people single-handedly polish off 3-foot-long chilidogs. Saturday, people were eating small croissants and bocadillos and only during half time. Also, they do not serve alcoholic beer at these soccer games, which I’m pretty sure would be considered a crime in Texas. Although I was kind of disappointed not to snack on some nachos during the game, I think that for once instead of fighting a cheese-induced coma, I was able to invest all my energy to watching the match, hoping for a Barcelona win, and gaining a newfound sense of Catalan pride.


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