Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Free Waffle and Wings Movement?

Competition? Rut row.....

In a twist, this past weekend the Free Beer Movement found itself watching hockey at a friend's house. The lure? Free beer was offered (and accepted), but the real draw was free waffles and homemade chicken wings. My buddy Craig, inspired by the FBM, invited people offer to partake in the Free Waffle and Wings Movement and some National Hockey League action.

On Sunday morning, the Penguins of Pittsburgh blew a three goal lead and fell, 5-4, to the Washingon Capitals in an extra period while guests consumed a wide variety of fried goods, waffles, and of course, beer. I even managed to get the Chelsea-Arsenal match running in the background (although hockey in 50" high def was drawing my attention away from the pirated BBC feed on the 15" laptop).

Being a good guest like my mother taught me we brought a Chouffe "Houblon" Dobbelen IPA Tripel (Belgium) that we bought after a beer tasting on Saturday (more from that in another post). We thought a nice Belgian light and crisp beer would go well with the breakfast offerings.

Floral notes, easy on the palette... blah, blah, blah... it tasted good.

How was the hockey? It was end to end action.... like indoor soccer on ice, but with more fighting (a down side of indoor soccer... not many fights, just a lot of turf burns!). What looked to be a Penguins blow out (Craig and his brother Cale are HUGE Pittsburgh fans) through a pair of goals each (a brace in soccer) by Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal turned into a great come-from-behind-victory for the Capitals, who maintained their 14 game win streak. Pretty quick learner, huh?

I learned that NHL rinks are smaller than Olympic rinks and that it sucks to be a guest at a friend's house when their team loses. Learning enhanced my experience. I'm not a total dunce when it comes to hockey, just relatively indifferent to the sport, but things like icing, who can and cannot be in the crease needed to be explained to me. Craig and Cale were more than willing to explain all the nuances of the game in between screaming at the TV. When you're watching something that you don't normally, it helps to have a knowledgeable person, and a person willing to take the time to share that knowledge, nearby.

What I Learned for the Free Beer Movement

It was some valuable lessons to think about how each "Free Beer Mover" should operate when taking their "soccer newbies" to games. How that it's about the free beer, but it's also about taking the time to educate our guests about the sport. Understanding the sport can only lead to a greater appreciation of each successive time that the newbie catches a game. The break through is the beer, whereas the follow up is the knowledge.

We know that sometimes it's a lot to ask of our followers to take this important next step, but it is crucial. The FBM is more than just an avenue to drink beer (although it certainly is a convenient excuse!) it's an avenue for soccer lovers to spread what they know and enlighten the soccer newbies that we are feeding our beers to.

Falling in love with any sport is a long and arduous journey. It starts with interest, is built on understanding of the game, followed by choosing a team (through any number of ways), and following and investing in that team and the sport in general. Free beer and you as a Free Beer Mover is an important step in the initial stages.

We can't expect any soccer newbie to walk into a stadium or soccer pub and fall for the sport instantly. The same nuances that were daunting to me as a "hockey newbie" are easily present in soccer (offsides, probably the single most difficult thing to explain in all of sports, etc). Without the steady hand of a soccer-experienced person nearby the soccer newbies' experience is for nothing. Through our free beer efforts and education we can build a lasting foundation for the future of American soccer.

Watching some hockey... decked out in soccer gear. I think I'm safe.

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"Anyone who tells me soccer is boring, I'm going to punch them in the face."
- Former Dallas Burn (aka FC Dallas) coach Dave Dir

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