There Are Games… Then There Are Games Pt.1

Round three o´clock my day changed from buying empanadas at the local store to having to make the trek to downtown Buenos Aires to get tickets for one of the most heated games so far in the Copa Libertadores.  The Boca Nation was furious and at the same time preoccupied after their team’s loss in Santiago the week before.  Yet there were various other scenarios that emerged.  The obvious one was the Argentina-Chile rivalry that bring out the best- and worst- out of all the fans in attendance as well as the neighboring countries. 

For me there was only one thing on my mind- I was going back to where I fell in love with my two true loves.   I was kind of rekindling that fire towards the sport that faded a bit living in the football tundra that Connecticut can be.  At the same time I had seats and saw myself flirting and coercing my eventual wife.  Those memories were still ingrained in my mind.  

I talked to my brother-in-law throughout the trip to the Argentine capital and I knew that going to a football match was not only going to be an emotionally draining experience, but also a study in the diaspora of Argentine culture.  People of all classes, from the unemployed villero to CEOs were rooting.  ¨Todos somos Boqueneses,¨ yelled a drunken Boca 3 hours prior to the game right  outside the stadium where we ate the traditional choripan and a Coca (Cola, that is).  Here in Argentina you are not a fan, you are part of a nation, an emotion, a belief, and a way to vent out one’s frustrations. 

Going into the stadium two hours before kickoff allowed us all to take the opportunity to sit back and reacquaint ourselves with the fútbol culture that is in place here in South America.  La Bombonera is without a doubt one of the most unique stadiums and Boca’s fans make it that much more picturesque.   For any American readers, let me just put it to you this way; Boca fans make Jets games seem like a night at the opera.  But that is the beauty, yet the boorish reality of the extreme to which football is taken in these parts of the world.  I was fortunate to be at that game because I had unborn children ahead of me on that team’s waiting list. 

Enough with the history.  I got to the stadium and walked in and the energy alone was indicative of how the game was going to be.  Two hours prior to kickoff, the Argentines and Chileans were at each other throat’s insulting each other and talking about their mothers.  Well any game involving teams from these two countries has that as part of the ambience. 

When the teams walked out onto the pitch, the entire stadium exploded.  That moment I was never able to get ahold of myself and started to scream and as tears rolled down my eyes.  I looked and saw that my brother-in-law felt the exact same way.  This was what made any team or game in the US, regardless of sport, lack in glitz and spontaneity.   This was what made the sport that much special.

The game was just about to start and I was ready for an event that I would remember for the rest of my life.