Sunday, November 20, 2022

‘Are You Ready for Some Futbol?’

Last week I mentioned that I’ve become quite interested in the English Premier League, the top division of football in Great Britain (or as we call it here, soccer). As someone who has been a big fan of American football for decades, and who regularly referred to soccer as “more boring than a PBS pledge drive,” no one is more surprised than I am that I’m actually enjoying futbol games on TV.

And even more surprising, the primary reason I got interested in the Premier League is the TV series “Ted Lasso.” If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s on the Apple TV+ streaming service. Here is the premise, as summarized by Wikipedia: “Ted Lasso, an American college football coach, is unexpectedly recruited to coach an English Premier League soccer team, despite having no experience coaching soccer. The team’s owner, Rebecca Welton, hires Lasso hoping he will fail as a means of exacting revenge on the team’s previous owner, her unfaithful ex-husband. However, Ted’s charm, personality, and humor begin to win over Rebecca, the team, and those who had been skeptical about his appointment.”
So far, there have been two seasons of “Ted Lasso,” with Season 1 being absolutely charming and Season 2 very entertaining but a bit more grim. Season 3 is expected to be released sometime in the next few months.

Actor/comedian Jason Sudeikis plays Ted brilliantly, infusing the character with the innocence of Forrest Gump, the witty repartee of Hawkeye Pierce, and the relentless optimism of SpongeBob SquarePants. 

I thoroughly enjoyed watching the show, but I am firmly ambivalent about recommending “Ted Lasso” to anyone else. You see, since it’s a show on an internet streaming service, all the FCC guidelines about TV profanity do not apply. And the fact is, the dialog on the show, however witty it may be, sounds a lot like some of the crude and rude conversations I’ve heard on construction sites, except with British accents. (Even though certain words have different meanings depending on whether you’re American or British, most cuss words apparently are exactly the same on both sides of the pond.)
It’s a shame the show’s language is so profane, because there are some really important lessons that people of all ages should hear. For example, besides being relentlessly optimistic, Ted always respects other people, no matter how nasty they are to him, and he forgives easily and often. And really, in our current cultural climate, wouldn’t a little dose of tolerance, respect, and forgiveness be a welcomed change?

Anyway, the TV show offers a behind-the-scenes look at a fictional Premier League football club, including the team’s passionate and loyal fans. And that’s one of the things I’ve always enjoyed the most about sports: the dedicated fan bases, such as Red Sox Nation, the Cameron Crazies, and the Green Bay Cheeseheads. 

When I came to understand that the football clubs in England have just as much history and are just as big a part of the community’s identity as, say, the Red Sox, Yankees, or Dallas Cowboys, I decided to watch a couple of PL games on TV. I was pleased to discover that it’s not boring at all. Like Ted Lasso, my understanding of the rules is minimal, but it’s kind of fun to learn.

Right now, the Premier League has taken a break because the World Cup is in full swing. (From a global perspective, the World Cup is kind of like the Super Bowl combined with the World Series — times 50.)

I never thought I’d say this, but if the choice is between watching football or futbol, I prefer to watch the most popular sport on planet earth. Cheers, mate. 

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