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The English Premiere League has arrived on the NBC Sports Network for this season, which is great news for the evangelical soccer fan in your neighborhood. Soccer, or football as it's known everywhere in the world except for where football is played with an elliptical shaped thing that is handled mostly with the hands, is one of those sports that kids love to play in this country but tend to lose interest in on the professional level because of reasons that I don't think I'm qualified to list here.
I didn't even play soccer as a kid, and as a teenager, I thought the game was boring as all get out. Why was the field so big, I wondered. They don't score enough, I scoffed. Through my 20s, even as I grew to respect the game and its legions of fans more, I still was at arm's length, even as the United States' prominence in international competition grew and as Major League Soccer grew more and more into its own skin.
As I've found out through the wonderful world of Twitter, many of the people I followed for their HOT SPROTS TAEKS on things like football and baseball started tweeting on Saturday mornings about the English Premiere League. Something inside my brain clicked. Their tweeting actually got me curious on what the big deal was all about, so I started to put out feelers on what teams to follow, what to look for, etc.
With NBCSN picking up footy for this season, I had to put my money where my mouth was. So once TJ went down for a nap (when he's awake, he dominates the television, no questions asked), I turned on the game just in time to see the second half of an Arsenal vs. Aston Villa match that was described as a barnburner on Twitter. Within ten minutes, I found myself totally immersed in the action, even though there wasn't a whole lot of play near either goal, although I did jump up from my seat when Fabian Delph hit the dang post and saw the ball run parallel to the goal line.
I don't know what it is that changed in my head, but I found myself really getting into each play, whether or not it would directly lead to a score or not. So much action, so many individual matchups and confrontations, all of it happened in various spots on the pitch. All the individual battles were so fascinating, and I finally got why people could get so into soccer even if scoring opportunities didn't come as frequently as they did in the American version of the game with the same name.
I watched a grand total of three halves of footy - that second half of Arsenal/Aston Villa and the entire Swansea City/Manchester United match - and I can say that the EPL has my attention. Soccer in general has me. I now have a desire to catch a Philadelphia Union game (and why not, the stadium is right around the proverbial corner). However, when it comes to the EPL, I need to pick a team. State your case in the comments. I am trying to stay away from the London teams, because that would be like rooting for a team from New York, but if you have a compelling case for Chelsea, Arsenal, or Tottenham Hotspur, don't be afraid to make it, I suppose.
However, all pleas to become a fan of Manchester United (or even Manchester City) will be welcomed with your exile into the Solar Cannon to be shot into the Sun. I will not root for the New York Yankees (or Boston Red Sox) of the English Premiere League.