We Are The Champions! (Not)

In light of today’s friendly between Belgium and Slovenia in Genk, dr. Arf prepared another guest post which I’m more than happy to publish. Not in the least because I’m having trouble keeping with the regular pace of posting (which I think is pretty obvious). Things will improve, however, as things are heating up yet again within the coalition. More on that tomorrow, as well as the fate of Croatian NATO membership bid.

And now for something completely different

Twenty-two guys chasing a single ball and selling enormous quantities of beer in the process 😈

(If you are a football enthusiast with no sense of humor (although, in my opinion the one automatically confirms the other), please look away now)

The nation known as Belgium, as you all know after having read my ?Belgium Explained To Slovenes’ guest posts, is fractured to the point of breaking up, but it – or rather, the football adoring sheep that populate it and they are many – comes together whenever the national team is playing. And why? To see them lose and have the national coach explain that it a) was undeserved, b) the ref was unfair, c) they didn’t do all too bad in spite of the loss. Or, in a more positive scenario, have him declare a draw to be a major victory for the team (“We’re doing better”; “team spirit is great” etc…). Anyhoo, I vowed to never, ever watch an entire football match while being conscious and sound of mind for the rest of my life, just like I’m doing everything in my power (up to putting fingers in my ears whenever an unsuspecting or foolhardy DJ is torturing me with a song of theirs) to avoid being subjected to music by The B*****s. But the latter is an altogether different story, best served in a bar along with several helpings of certain alcoholic beverages…

So why this hatred and utter disdain for football? Because football, my dear Pengovsky.com readers, ruined my childhood. It permeated through every aspect of my childhood in a negative way. Friendships were forged and/or lost on the high school playground, depending on which team you favoured. If you had none, had two left feet to boot and a lot of book knowledge, you were a nerd in the making and hence not deemed worthy to run with the alpha males in the making. I was lucky enough to have only one left foot (the right one apparently was good for kicking round, blown up pig skin in whatever direction it needed to go very accurately, even though I’m born a left hander and footer), and survival instinct compelled me to join in supporting the biggest team in Belgium (Anderlecht, nothing has changed since, even though they try their best to fuck up, I am told). But I was also bookish and smart. And my real sports were cycling and tennis. Not the most wowing sports in those days – save for one Eddy Merckx who was cycling in the Autumn of his career by then but was and still remains the greatest cyclist of all time (sorry, Tadej Valjavec 😉 ) and Björn Borg being the Swede everyone knew as the Eddy Merckx of tennis.

Football also ruined any hope of family respectability. Whenever there was football on TV, my granddad commandeered the thing and we had to sit in silence while he and his sons gazed at the black and white screen. And this was usually at the time when my favourite music programs were on. This did not help my growing antipathy towards what I considered to be one of the most boring sports of all (besides golf and curling). Even watching grass grow, I felt and still feel, is more interesting than this sport. Or what to think about having to sit through all the match results of all leagues being read over national radio (yes, ALL of the eight leagues, 18 matches each) while having Sunday dinner. It made the most boring day of the week even infinitely more boring. I think that’s when I became suicidal, which only passed after having been abstinent of this overblown and overhyped game for at least a decade.

Because that’s what it is : an overblown and overhyped game, with twenty overpaid sissies – who manage to roll over and act out certain death when being slightly touched by an opponent and then call this ?strategy’ – running after a ball and two trying to catch it when it’s shot towards them. There is a scene in a Simpsons episode (stemming from when the WC ?soccer’ was played in the USA, if I recall correctly) where the sheer boredom of watching this is perfectly illustrated. Art imitating life. I love it. But then, one single Simpsons episode displays more intelligence and excitement than the entire Champion’s League season.

“Why”, I can hear you think, “am I reading this here?” Simple : Belgium is playing Slovenia tonight, which compels me to break my vow, if for nothing else than to support the team of the country I feel more at home at than my own. And I hope I will derive no small amount of satisfaction when the Slovene team kicks Belgium’s team’s ass into oblivion. Please do, ?tis only just…

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

21 thoughts on “We Are The Champions! (Not)”

  1. Just a side note: Tadej Valjavec was never a contender for the best cyclist of all time. He is however considered by many (me included) as one of the best Slovenian cyclists of all time.

  2. Completely off topic, but… Arf, did I catch that right on the radio a few days ago that a young Belgian cyclist died in his sleep?

    Trivia: Luxembourg apparently has a very strong and successful cycling community and in the Luxembourger of the Year for 2008, they took the first three places, followed by the Grand Duke 😉

  3. Well, there’s chaos theory for you. Adriaan, you give “link farm” a completely new meaning :mrgreen:

    BTW: that was the same tournament where Yugoslavia came fourth. Another case of nearly making it.

  4. @ Adriaan : ‘Nearly’ being the operative word… as usual. :mrgreen:

    @P : If you read that paragraph again, you’ll see I mention twenty two sissies : twenty chasing after the ball and two trying to catch it. 😉

    @Alcessa : If you’re talking about the football team, it’s merely out of perverse pleasure of seeing the ‘home team’ lose. 😛 Ever since seven years ago (my first foot on your soil was actually on February 8th!), though, I have been and always will be a fan of the country called Slovenija. 🙂

    @ Dr. Fil. : You’re absolutely right. A Belgian cyclist died of heart failure last week in Qatar. His team, which is government sponsored, was very strict on doping and they were checked all the time, so the cause of death is still a mystery. Interesting detail : the aforementioned Eddy Merckx is technical director of the Qatar Tour. And a vacation you say? I have something else in mind. But I plan a visit to ‘Letzeburg’ first. 😉

    @ ZigaK : My tongue was planted very much in one of my cheeks when I mentioned Valjavec as a contender for best cyclist ever, as the emoticon attests. 😉 However, I agree with you that he is the best Slovene cyclist at this time. And perhaps Bozic might be a contender in times to come. He showed himself a couple of times last year during the Classic season, of which most races are being ridden here in Belgium (with the exception of Milan – San Remo (IT), Paris – Roubaix (FR) and the Amstel Gold Race(NL))

  5. Simon Špilak (Lampre) finished 9th in last years Ronde van Vlaanderen. He actualy jumped the group of favourites on the finishing straight. And he’s 22 years of age. Keep an eye on him.
    Dont’t forget Janez Brajkovič, he wore gold leaders jersey in Vuelta. He got it in direct duel with likes of Vino, Killer and Valverde.

  6. As far as I know, the Belgian TV channels don’t broadcast online outside of the territory, unfortunately. However, Belgium is leading 1 – 0 with ten minutes to go, even though I just saw a nice goal attempt by the Men In Green. Come on, guys, you can do it in ten minutes, surely!!

  7. For people who don’t speak Slovenian and don’t understand the link alcessa posted: It seems that Belgian organisers played the Slovak anthem. Oops…

  8. Dr. ARF: the guy I linked to above says you played the Slovakian anthem to our boys? How could this have happened 😯 ? 😈

  9. Actually; I am quite confused myself: it is much more appropriate to say Slovak (like you did, Pengovsky) than Slovakian, also, I had to translate something today which went under the name Slovanian 😈 Sometimes I do wish we were be called something else. Alpinians or something.

  10. @P & Alcessa : I was wondering why it didn’t sound like ‘Zdravljica’ to me, even though the commentator said it was (and pronounced it rather badly, but then I couldn’t get our cycling commentator to pronounce ‘Valjavec’ with the emphasis on the second ‘a’ either. At least he went on to pronounce the ‘c’ right from when I mailed him). At least he said it was a nice anthem with overtones of friendship (little did he know it’s also a drinking song, mhehe).

    As for the whole Slovene/Slovenian; Slovak/Slovakian etc. : I seem to recall Michael M. dedicating a post to this on his now sadly defunct Carniola blog. My linguistic tendencies go towards ‘Slovene’ as an adjective. However, many translation sites designate the language/adjective as ‘Slovenian’, while my little dictionary (bought in LJ) says ‘Slovene-English/English-Slovene’. As long as we know what we’re talking (about) there’s no harm done, right? 😉

  11. Yes, of course…. I am confused as to Slovene/Slovenian, too. I was told Slovene is correct (for language and people), at the same time, a Canadian Slovene told me she never uses the word because it is so similar to sloven.

    I sometimes even manage the confusion between Slovene and Slovak when choosing the language of Wikipedia 😆 So, you know, when Slovenes start to get things wrong, the name of the country should be changed 🙂

  12. Hey ppl..

    I like fotball. But I’m half danish and in scandinavia it compares to being, half other-yugo-rep-than-slovenia in that the danish are passionate about fotball.. However I have to say I became a fan of fotball only when i became an expat. never chering in for sweden in sweden but always for sweden when abroad. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

    on another note. Merckx. what a man, riding like a demon for a sausage company.. slovenias hope now in this field I’d say is jani.

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