My family has always been very fond of sports. One of my earliest memories is going with my father and my brother to one of my father’s uncle’s company on the weekend to play football (soccer). It was a big company (at least that’s the impression I had, I was very young), there was a football field in front of the building where the machines were. The adults played while the children explored the space and found something else to do. It was a day when everyone had fun and the excuse was football. Other Sundays, we would go to my grandmother’s house, we would have lunch and we stay until the football (soccer for Americans) match was over, around 6:00 in the afternoon.
Another sport we liked to watch was Formula 1. For me, one of the most exciting moments is overtaking, they make up for all the tedious hours when drivers do laps at over 200km/h. I remember on May 1, 1994, we were watching THE RACE nobody likes to remember. For those who don’t know, that weekend, on Saturday, Rubens Barrichello had had a serious accident, on Saturday a driver had died, and, on Sunday, Ayrton Senna had a fatal collision with a concrete barrier.
In Brazil, many say that we were orphaned by Senna, he was such an important sportsman for my generation, on and off the tracks, that even today people, my age or older, remember the impossible races he won. As the GP Brasil in 1991, he had a gearshift failure losing first the fourth gear, then the fifth and the last eight laps he only had the sixth gear, he could barely lift the trophy so much effort he made to complete the race first. After 94, my Sunday mornings became silent, or at least the expectation was different.
Other sports were taking place on Sunday mornings (keep in mind that I am from a time when the internet was not fast, and there was not much to explore online), my family followed some championships in different sports. Sunday breakfasts were long and usually lasted as long as the match we were watching. At the time, it was just another activity we used to do together, but today, when everyone watches what they want on their cellphone screen and don’t share much, those Sundays became even more precious to me.
We also always liked to go and watch it live. We went to stadiums, basketball courts, whatever was in the city and it was free or cheap. It was at the stadium that I lost my first bet and as a terrible loser, I refused to cheer for another team. It was on the basketball court that we got our basketball jerseys signed by all the players, including Janette, who was already famous at the time.
My favorite sport is football (America: soccer), not championships or players, I like to watch the game, if it’s good I’ll watch it until the end, I’ll root for a good game, regardless of the result, unless São Paulo or Palmeiras are on the field. My father cheers for São Paulo and I cheer for Palmeiras and the sport for years was something that brought us together. He made fun of me when my team lost, I did the same with him. Until today when I make video calls, and I’m wearing the Palmeiras jersey, he asks if there was a game, what was the result. I complain about my team, my father says that now he only watches about ping pong or dominoes, and about the Brazilian squad we complain together. 😛
It sounds silly, but for me, this kind of conversation, which happens naturally, which doesn’t have a specific purpose, is what strengthens the friendship between two people. At the last World Cup, my French friend was super excited, she knew they had a strong team before it even started, I remember going with her to watch France playing and she went with me to watch the Brazilian team. It was one, if not, the cup that I had the most fun watching, and the main reason is that there were people to share the passion for the sport (and because I came very close to winning the first round jackpot ;p ).
With each new phase of André, I notice a little of the difficulties in understanding what was going on in the children’s minds. Even if you believe that you have gone through something similar, society is not the same anymore, the person is not the same and, therefore, the perspective is not the same.
Still, despite all the differences, all the changes, each new phase, I wanted to have that something that would bring us closer, to be able to talk about a random and disinterested subject. That’s why it was important for me to have a sport that André and I could share. I wanted to be able to experience with him what I share with my parents. I wanted to have something in common that we could spend hours talking, get nowhere, and have the satisfaction that neither of us had to work too hard to keep the conversation going.
As I’ve said many times here, I like football (or soccer if you are from the U.S.A.), and maybe a little more Palmeiras than football (you already know…soccer). I took André to the stadium, I tried to watch football ( 🙂 ) with him at home. My father did the same and even bought his team’s jersey for him (before he was born he already had a São Paulo uniform), but he said he was a Messi fan and that he supported Barcelona, but he didn’t know any player other than the Argentine one and much less the result from the last game. Football was never where his heart was, although he likes to play.
Shortly before he came to live with me in China, André began to take an interest in basketball. He loved to watch some of their moves, learned the names of the players, the team they played for, watched fun facts about the best athletes, and understands more about the NBA than some Americans. When he meets up with my friend who plays and still works with basketball I have no choice but to watch the two of them talking about something I understand almost nothing about it.
This year, I finally decided to give NETFLIX a try, while we were looking for something to watch together over the holidays, we ended up finding the Formula 1: Drive to Survive. We watched the three seasons in just a few weeks, I was delighted to be able to see behind the scenes of the races, meet the team bosses and the battle to have a competitive car, satisfied drivers, and the result of the races. Congratulations to all editors/directors for how they organized each episode and the prominence they gave to different Formula 1 characters.
We found out some Youtube channels that make memes about the races, plus a lot of material from past races and interviews. Before long, André downloaded a demo version of Formula 1 game on his Playstation, later he paid for the full game. I researched and saw that the season had already started and that the next race was going to be at a time we could watch. We were lucky, it was an exciting race, with a red flag, and an accident right at the beginning of the race. We didn’t even notice the time. I warned him that not every race was like that, so he shouldn’t get too excited, since then, we had watched other races, when there’s time, we start watching half an hour before, following the interviews, preparation, etc.
Hours of disinterested conversation that haven’t reached any conclusion about what might happen, the reasons why Bottas is leaving Mercedes; from us rooting that he will win a race next year for his new team; the expectation for when the next race will not be 3:00 am and we will be able to watch it, and a sport to share.