For long, sports entertainment has been an integral part of my life. I woke up every morning awaiting the next big game or tournament, looking to catch glimpses of exciting events and action in the sports world. Every sports bar I visited brought with it a familiar ambiance. Scattered clusters of team jerseys and colours all around inspired a sense of belonging with the place. Even the team sponsors had a separate place in my heart. I could turn any random conversation into a sports conversation.
During my early days in Vancouver as an international student, I experienced a strange void growing within me. Something wasn’t right; something was missing. It took me a while, but I eventually recognized the problem. The problem was the games that I followed – Cricket and Football (Soccer; I hate to call it that) – were not popular here. The latter is the biggest sport on the planet and the former is an Indian religion (we have a Cricket God). There were no television sets in restaurants that showed highlights of recent cricket games. I wasn’t often surrounded by people wearing those familiar soccer jerseys. I was accustomed to watching my favourite sports conveniently in the evening with pints of chilled beer, and that was a part of the entire experience. In Vancouver, I had to watch them early in the morning, half-dead with hot, strong coffee.
Things were far from ideal and I needed a real sporting experience. I visited a sports bar on a weekend in Vancouver where I was introduced to the Canadian sports world – Football (clearly lacking imagination), Baseball, Hockey and, oh yes, Curling. A boring, senseless version of cricket, football that is not primarily played with the foot, world wrestling entertainment with a tag team of 6 players on a special ring made of ice, and a sport that I never knew existed. Obviously, I was terrified. Canada might be one of the rare countries that telecasts a curling game instead of a live UEFA Champions League semi-finals game!
As time progressed, I learned that for many of my friends, these sports actually made sense. As the saying goes, “the fans define the sport,” and it is only logical that the games would make more sense if experienced with the fans. Over some time, I did just that. I started trying to understand the games and get engaged with the sports. Overall, I feel that this has worked. While I haven’t necessarily developed a keen eye for these sports, they have surely sparked my interest. I am convinced that it is only through fans of the sport that I could experience the true spirit of the game. I hope to continue my journey of learning to love new sports. Soon, I might even be awaiting the next Superbowl or hanging out with Canucks fans!
– Yash Doshi