Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Free Beer Movement in Action: John from Florida

(Editor's Note: We've asked for your "Free Beer Movement in Action" stories and pictures and you've responded! We believe in the idea that free beer is a crucial element in building a long-lasting and passionate base of soccer fans in America.  Those that have subscribed to the "free beer philosophy" are helping us shore up our thesis that "free beer works" by sending in their evidence from across the country.

WE STILL WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! Send us your stories and pictures of the FBM in Action in your neck of the woods and we'll send you some FREE Free Beer Movement stickers for your troubles.)

Free Beer Movement in Spain, Germany, and Florida (that's a country, right?)

Just wanted to add my two cents. I'm a writer, so sorry about the length. I tried to keep it modest.

World Cup 2002, Spain:

I had the best seats at this game. Actually, the best seats I've ever had at any sporting event ever. Three rows behind the USA bench. I was hoarse for three days after screaming directions to Bruce Arena, who for some reason ignored me.
German Pub in Spain: I was in Spain with a large group of American college students (and I was recent high school grad, in a place with no recognizable drinking age) during this World Cup. I stayed in the city of Valencia, and there was a German/Celtic pub (it's name is Max Max, it's small but epic) that gave away free t-shirts with 8 pints of beer. Naturally we all tried to see who could collect the most shirts. We came to watch nearly ever US game there, filling the place with Americans. They were shocked that so many Americans cared about the game so much. But we showed our passion when we were robbed in the quarters against Germany, of all people. We were livid. Such an obvious handball. The German patrons felt our pain, and loved our passion. We stayed there and traded soccer stories and bought each other pints. The game ended with the sun up, but I stumbled out at night, with a shirt tied around my head.

World Cup 2006, Germany:

While working in Germany for the World Cup, I often found myself in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people speaking unfamiliar languages. I spoke to (or made hand gestures with) someone from every livable continent in the world. Even though I was there with a few dozen family members, it was not uncommon to find myself flying solo for a night or two. I am not the type to sit alone in my hotel room, so when I have spare time I venture out into the city and try to find new friends.

My cousins and I right before USA vs. Ghana, World Cup 2006. Great part about this pic was obviously the ridiculous sized beers. Even better, every time my beer was almost gone, a random person (usually an American, but a German did also) would refill my brew from their own. Kinda makes me tear up a bit when I think about.
South Americans on the Train: On a red eye train from Munich to Berlin, I found it hard to sleep, likely because my sleeping patterns were non-existent due to many nights/morning spent at the bar/pub/disco. I could not sit in my chair any longer, so I got up and wandered to the back of the train, where they typically serve food. When I got to the smoky car, I found two gentlemen, un gordo y un flaco, talking passionately in Spanish. I speak a little Espanol, and I understood they were talking about soccer. The language barrier was pretty steep, but after we bought each other some (over-priced) beer, the laughs and the stories poured out. Turns out they were soccer announcers there to cover the games for live radio broadcasts (the fast-speaking ones that scream "Gooooooooooooool!" He even did a fake broadcast to show me). We spoke for hours, and I got off at my destination thoroughly tipsy after being entertained by soccer nuts from South America. 

Random Germans: I spent the majority of my time in Germany based in Munich. I had a large group of family come to Munich for some games, and I showed them the good spots for nightlife. One night, while dancing (and sweating profusely; most German places don't have/need air-conditioning) with my cousins, I started to talk with some guys at the bar who noticed we were American (we knew the words to the songs being played). He introduced me to his girlfriend, and some other guys he was with. At the end of the night/beginning of the morning, we were still (drunkenly) talking, and my fam was ready to head back to the hotel. He invited me back to his place and was going to make everyone breakfast. We hopped on a train, and I found myself in a suburb of Munich with a bunch of people who don't speak English, and we were still drinking beer at 7:30am. The pictures from that night all have me smiling. Luckily a few of them spoke English, but by the look in my oft-crossed eyes in the pictures, I'm not sure I understood any language. I met up with those folks a few more times before the end of the cup, and we always compared stories about how soccer is viewed in our countries.

This was during the opening game, that amazing spectacle of football that was Germany vs. Costa Rica (4-3 Germany I believe). Braids were still fresh.
Is that my beer?: I just happened to be in Berlin when the Germans clinched their spot in the knockout rounds. The streets of Berlin erupted like a beer volcano. People were spinning out their tires, honking their horns, cheering, dancing, playing loud music, and singing until the sun came up. My uncle and I had just sold our tickets to a game we weren't interested in seeing, and were wandering the streets, soaking up the atmosphere. We were looking for a place to buy a beer, but every place had a line longer than we wanted to wait. Then suddenly it seemed like a riot was breaking out as a group of Germans rushed an ambulance and started pushing on it's side, tilting it back and forth. After much screaming, yelling, and cheering, they stopped. Then I saw why they were doing that, the ambulance driver stuck his whole body out the window and revealed a huge German flag and a bigger smile. During all this commotion, people started running to see what was happening. I saw a guy leave his freshly-bought beer on a window sill and run over. I did not need to buy a beer after that.

World Cup 2010, USA:

My "I-don't-watch-sports" Friend: I decided to start an American Outlaws chapter in Orlando, FL. I was bummed about not getting to South Africa, and I was determined to re-create the passion of the last two World Cups I'd seen over seas at home. My family did not need to be swayed, even had my father and mother out for some games, and yes they cheer loudly. But the challenge was getting my friends out to see some games, the friends that either don't watch sports or just don't follow soccer. One of my friends admittedly just doesn't watch sports. He's a computer guy, and he parties, but he's not the type to turn a game on and watch by himself.

I offered to buy him a round or two if he would just come out to one game... that game was US vs. Algeria. He missed the first half, but got there just in time to get settled and enjoy the match. He understood the anguish on my face as My Boys faced elimination. I was having a really hard time enjoying the match. He was enjoying seeing my stress about a game. But when LD10 scored THAT goal, he was running around with the rest of us, smiling and laughing in disbelief. We were standing on top of the bar fist-pumping, and I was nearly in tears. He hugged strangers, high-fived everyone in sight. Then he told me he would for-sure be there for the next game, and he was, on-time and everything. And he was just as pissed that we lost. He still doesn't watch sports, but he watches the USMNT.

John A. Paz

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1 comment:

  1. what a great story... you really love the sport and what it does to its fans..


"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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