I went to a bar to watch a soccer game the other night. Some people might call it football. But not me. It’s soccer. And the two teams in question were Inter and Manchester United. The importance of the game was lost on me. I keep trying this whole soccer thing but just can’t get into it.
The more I think about it the more I realize it really must have something to do with never really grown up watching it or playing at any sort of high level. Although my years as a Young American Soccer player have been saved for posterity in the numerous team photos that once hung proudly on my bedroom wall.
Inter was the clear favorite in the room. Possibly because Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Swedish star, plays for them. Unfortunately, Inter lost 2-0 (which is pronounced two-nil because nil means zero in soccer speak).
But so it goes. I was there to have a beer or two and hang out with some friends. Which I did. And it was quite enjoyable. And it was fun to watch the reaction of others to the game. And it was especially fun to take in the Swedishness.
This time, the Swedishness manifested itself a bit differently than it so often does. Because it was the nervous excitement of sports fans, but of Swedish sports fans. Having been in Sweden for a while now, I think there is a lot to be said for the stereotypical reservedness of Swedes. At least Stockholm Swedes. That plays a large part in what I consider Swedishness. That reservedness was on display last night. But it was not alone. Because another important aspect to Swedishness is the quiet concentration that so many Swedes demonstrate. It’s something I quite enjoy. And that quiet concentration was interspersed with displays of happiness or sheer disappointment followed by long periods of reservedness. Every shot anywhere near the goal was met with audible excitement. Every goal by Manchester United was met with audible disdain. It was an amazing display of the Swedish sports fan.
All in all, an entertaining evening. Even if I could not have cared less about the actual soccer being played.
Welcome to Sweden. And the Swedish sports bar scene.