We love our sports in America. We cherish every minute of every game. Sports permeate our culture to an unhealthy degree. But, Argentina has us beat for the title of most fanatical sports nation. Hands (of God) down.
The folks down in Argentina don’t just love their teams and players, they worship them. Literally.
Don’t believe me?
Well, ask the founders of the Church of Maradona. Founded in 1998, the Church of Maradona now has 10,000 followers in over sixty countries across the world. Maradona’s autobiography is their bible (I’m not kidding, and neither are they). The members of the Church have their own calendar, which is based on the date of Maradona’s birth. So, no, it is not 2008, it’s actually only AD (after Diego) 49. They even have their own 10 Commandments, of which my favorite is that each member of the Church must name their first male son “Diego”. Maradona reportedly is touched by the tribute.
Oh, you mean like he touched that ball with his hand at the 1986 World Cup?
Still don’t believe me that Argentina is the nuttiest sports culture on Earth?
Ask the 70 supporters of Chacarita Juniors (a second division soccer squad) who wanted to go to a recent game so badly that they hijacked two buses at knife-point. That’s right, they stopped the buses, forced the passengers out onto the ground and then ordered the bus drivers to take them to the stadium for the game. Talk about devotion.
Of course, the police were notified by the ousted passengers and the 70 fans were all arrested before they could make it to the game. What a bummer. I wonder if they have prison garb that says “I Committed A Crime of Violence to Watch My Team Play and All I Got Was This Shirt and 3 to 5 Years in a Buenos Aires Prison”.
What can we learn from the Argentines?
Well, not much. The moral of these two stories is that soccer is fun and all, but it shouldn’t be taken too seriously. It’s entertainment, not life or death (though those two bus drivers may beg to differ). We shouldn’t worship people because they can kick a ball, and we certainly shouldn’t be hi-jacking buses to make it to some second division game.
Now a first division game… That’s another story…