By Jordan Brown
There is a small humanity in me when it comes to football. I found it in between the transfer sagas of Robin Van Persie and Jovetic—nestled amongst the endless moneyed sagas of a dozen moneyed clubs, Cristiano Ronaldo—of all the possible people—cried out for a sympathetic ear, and of all the people, this Barcelona fan heard it. He said, as Goal.com puts it, “I try to be romantic, but no one believes me!” I’ve been trapped by the soap opera of his broken heart, who knew it could happen—this Messi rival and dramatic villain—he’s hooked me into the most personal of his trials, and I don’t know who I am now. Am I still the fevered observer, the tribalist cule bent towards complete distaste of all things Madrid, or a man—some flesh and bone recorder of human truth, a fellow of love and loss to the most distant personage I could ever imagine: the underwear model and millionaire that is Cristiano Ronaldo?
Some unyet-unnamed Thai television station has achieved the unbelievable and made the Real Madrid star humane— they have turned him into a father and wounded man, “He has the same hair as me. Strong and curly,” he gushed, “I sleep and wake with him. My son is always with me.” They have made him the father—the indistinguishable totem of male sympathy, which I among many cannot resist, and who must in his vocalized emotional desperation will to be loved. The report is surely spurious—Ronaldo is utterly personified, in a way that screams manufactured reportage.
It is a lie that sits very comfortably amongst the bullsh*t of transfer rumors and word-for-unbelievable-word of club statements that are spat around the summer weeks to develop our interest in the coming season. That it is fake isn’t the point though—the world of World Football has always—to me—had an undeniable narrative. Plots within plots that were carried within transfer sagas, rivalries older than my nation’s own colonies, all lit to white hot by the chants and flares of the ubiquitous faithful—their passion unmatched in American sports. The whole Europe-ness and Latin-ness of the game sucked me in and made me a convert alongside all the other colorful faithful.
But even here, I can see the machine at work—the desperate fabrications of The Sun reporters and Asian correspondents— Ronaldo would never have told us this. I don’t care though. He has the same hair as me. Strong and curly. He has never said this out loud, because a man of Ronaldo’s celebrity knows he owes us a bottom line so much less than this passion and honesty—but for me, seeing it on the screen in front of me, knowing exactly how faux it is, I can’t help but love the sharp turn it represents. Football isn’t a game anymore, it isn’t sport and statistic and legend like so many other physical competitions the world has for us to follow—it has now become the soap opera of our sporting hearts.
These men will no longer merely dance upon the perfected fields of competition, but will dance before our imaginations—their very lives fodder for dreams. Where before a Match of the Day broadcast might have Lineker directing us to tactics and form, we will be treated to mood and motivation. Each inspired move devoted to a determined aspiration, and each goal a shot struck for internal narrative.
This day—for me 3am on a Friday evening—will forever change the way that I view sport. No longer will I merely follow and support the struggle of clubs to glory, but I will also support the individual ambitions of each player as if they carried my own humanity across the pitch. Cristiano Ronaldo loves his son. I don’t know this because he told me so, I have a father myself whose example is ready enough to witness. I could have guessed it for all the paparazzo photographs of him with the child, and the rival player’s own visible commitment thereof. No, I know this even further because some clever columnist has discovered in my sport what has been true for all other mediums of culture for the past few years—if you tell me something about someone I have heard of, I’ll believe it. Cristiano Ronaldo loves his son, not because he’s told me, or because fathers love their sons, but because on a website, on the internet, a man—who has almost assuredly never met Cristiano Ronaldo—has told me it to be so. This is the truth of our time, and it is the new truth of football.
This piece was written by Jordan Brown. You can follow him on Twitter at @JordanSig. Comments below please.
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- ray101ification answered: thats right a father is a father. though I hate his arrogance but loved this one.
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- paullrdubois answered: No matter who he is in the pitch, a good Father is a good Father. Media twist or not, I like the angle. Though I hate his arrogance.
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