Magazine article The New Yorker

Away Games

Magazine article The New Yorker

Away Games

Article excerpt

Away Games

In the early nineteen-eighties, my uncle Lucho had a Sunday-night soccer radio show in a small town several hours south of Lima, Peru. On game days, he would take a bus up to the city with a tape recorder, and when he didn't have enough money for a ticket he would go to my cousins' house and watch the match on their color television. He would insist on having the volume off while he narrated the plays into his recorder, turning the sound up occasionally to get some authentic stadium ambi. At halftime, he would interview my cousins, as if they were fans he'd found in the stands, and they would play along, breathlessly recounting the game's most exciting moments, predicting victory for whichever team they were supposed to be supporting. Lucho would even pretend to be in the booth with the announcers, his tape recorder pressed up against the television speaker, pulling it away to splice in his commentary with theirs. When the game was over, Lucho would head to his radio station and play the unedited tape over the air. My cousins tell me that participating in these dramatizations was the best way to watch the game. You felt as though you were a part of something.

My own soccer upbringing was a little different. My family moved to Birmingham, Alabama, when I was three. The suburban teams of my childhood were filled with castoffs from more popular sports--kids too small to play football, too distractible for baseball. We practiced twice a week, competing for patches in certain skill areas--juggling, chipping, dribbling. Our mothers ironed the patches onto our jerseys as if we were Boy Scouts.

Compared with my teammates, I considered myself a sophisticate because of my heritage. The country of my birth was also my nickname--"Pass it, Peru!"--which surely began as bullying but eventually became a source of pride. I'd been to a stadium in Lima exactly once, an experience I remembered more for its air of danger--fireworks and chanting and scores of shirtless fans--than for anything that happened on the field. Still, I considered the sport a kind of inheritance, something that my American friends were merely borrowing. Most of my teammates had never seen adults play the sport--not in person, not on television. It was a child's game. Beyond the hallowed ritual of the halftime orange slice, we had no soccer culture to speak of. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.