Sunday, September 14, 2008

being a good sport

If I had been impregnated on the day I started this blog, I would probably be feeling labors pains right about now.

Here it is almost nine months, and I have read almost every imaginable topic on Mexican blogs -- with an obvious exception: sports.

There have been a few references. John of
Viva Veracruz will make a passing comment about an NFL game or the Olympics. Paul and Nancy of Countdown to Mexico mentioned one reason for moving to Mazatlán was to enjoy the local baseball team. And I have seen scattered references to local football games and bullfights.

What has been missing is a full-throated discussion of Mexico's passion: football. That silence was broken the other day by Gary of The Mexile when he posted a nice farewell to Cuauhtemoc Blanco. And that post got me to thinking. I know next to nothing about the Mexican football league structure, playoff mechanism, or even the nearest professional team to Melaque. So I put it to the only person who I knew who had an interest in football -- Gary.

Here is what he had to say:
A good place to keep up with the details is which is in Spanish, but you can always use Google to translate. Mexican football is a very different set up to back in England. For a start, they have two seasons in a year, Apertura and Clausura, instead of one. They play each team once per team instead of twice, and at the end of the league, the top 8 teams go into La Liguilla. That's a play off competition similar to what happen in American Football. The winner of that tournament are the champs.

Thing is, the 8 top teams are not necessarily the ones that finished in the top 8 places. The teams are all split into three groups which are never mentioned through the season, until the end. The top two teams of each group qualify for the play offs, and then there are extra play offs to determine the final two to make the proper play offs. So it's possible to finish third in the league table but, if the two teams above are in your group, not make the play offs! Ridiculous if you ask me!

I imagine Guadalajara will host the teams nearest you. The city has two, but Chivas are the famous ones. They've won more championships than any other team, are famous for playing only Mexican players. They are the most supported team in the country. Even here in Mexico City Chivas fans are the most numerous I think.

Pretty thorough advice if you ask me. Of course, if you ask me, I will simply parrot what Gary said.

Now, I have something more to research before I head south. Hmmm. Maybe this one will keep until I get across the border. Goalies wait longer than impaitient contractors.

Paul and Nancy -- How are the hometown Mudvilleans doing?


Michael Dickson said...

As someone having a lifelong total lack of interest in professional team sports, I have found one of the biggest joys of living in Mexico is not having to listen to men endlessly drone on about sports, glassing my eyes over.

Though many Mexican men and some women are as enthusiastic about soccer as Gringos get about their teams, they do not seem to think much about it except just before and after the game. The rest of their lives are devoted to other things. And thank God for that.

American Mommy in Mexico said...

We watched Chivas yesterday afternoon - they were creaming another team. We have started taking an interest in futbal in my house.

Nancy said...

The Venados play winter ball here, the season starts October 11 and goes through January (or February, with the playoffs.) They have 5 Extraneros on the team - no names I recognized, but some US players like to keep playing during the winter in Mexico.

We only went to one game last year but it was a blast. They came very close in the playoffs and tickets were impossible to get. We know the deal now so this year we'll be ready!

By the way, Paul is becoming a football fan here. Last week were two World Cup qualifying matches, so in addition to the local teams (we love CHivas here, too) there is the national team that's advancing towards the World Cup.

Steve Cotton said...

Michael -- I cannot truly call myself a football fan. I enjoyed going to matches in England -- as much for the social bonding as for the game. But, I am not a fan, in the sense that the term is derived from fanatic. Earl Warren was known to say that he looked first at the front page of a newspaper to read of man's failures. He then turned to the sports page to read of man's accomplishments.

American Mommy -- I am not certain of the process, but you should try to see Chivas in person before you return home. That would be a great experience for the family.

Nancy -- Thanks for the update. It sounds as if settling in Mazatlan for baseball will be a great decision.

islagringo said...

I agree with Dickson. People go crazy here for soccer, but only during playoffs. We regularly watch our friends compete in futbal rapido. A smaller, quicker version of soccer that lasts an hour. Great fun!

Calypso said...

Like Michael and Wayne I don't have a lot of interest in sports other than a little golf or tennis - but here on this Sunday I find myself watching some futbol - but no football ;-)

Steve Cotton said...

Wayne and John -- Maybe that is the reason it is not discussed. Football is important, but in a Mexican way -- in the moment. I am fine with that -- even though I will analyze it to death.