The first sport I ever loved was basketball. I started following the NBA in 7th grade (Mavs fan, Dallas pride), and, since then, Iâ€™ve only allowed two other sportsâ€”soccer and lacrosseâ€”close to my heart. You canâ€™t help what you love, what excites you, what makes you nervous and jittery; for me, thatâ€™s soccer, basketball and lacrosse. I really enjoy watching baseball, and I actually used to be a pretty big Rangers fan. Iâ€™m still a fan, but I donâ€™t follow the league as rigorously as I used to in high school. Iâ€™ve started to appreciate and develop an interest in football, but itâ€™s only basketball, soccer and lacrosse that really do it for me, and even then I donâ€™t even follow any lacrosse leagues. I love it because I play the sport.
I know, Iâ€™m not one of those die-hard-since-birth kind of fans. I really wish I had been one of those types, so Iâ€™m sorry that I donâ€™t know as much history or as many facts as you do, but I am a three-year Arsenal fan and damn proud of it. Since I am a new fan, people always ask me, â€œHowâ€™d you pick Arsenal?â€ And my answer isnâ€™t a great one: out of my friends who followed the EPL, one was a Chelsea fan and the other was a Manchester United fan, and as incredible as both of those teams are, I wanted to find my own club.
And then, of course, there was Thierry Henry. What a legend. I may not have followed any big leagues, but I grew up on the World Cup. My father is a huge soccer fan, so whenever there was any type of game on TV, he would be watching it. My family is Turkish, so he followed FenerbahÃ§e, but not meticulously. Itâ€™s strange when I think about it now because I wonder why I didnâ€™t start following a team sooner, but no one around me really followed soccer intently or it never came up in conversation. I think itâ€™s because soccer is kind of an overlooked sport in America, which is sad. Someone once said there are two universal languages in the world: soccer and food. I would say thatâ€™s pretty accurate.
Watching the World Cup bred my appreciation and fascination for soccer (and ultimately led to a soccer player infatuation starting in high school and continuing today), so every two summers it would be the Euros and the World Cup. Wherever my family was, thatâ€™s what our summers revolved around. So thatâ€™s how I became aware of the great French superstar, and thatâ€™s why I ultimately chose Arsenal. My newfound appreciation for Arsenal and the EPL made me love soccer even more. Any soccer fanatic will know the feeling that I cannot even describe hereâ€”that feeling of absolute happiness, nervousness and excitement when your team enters the stadium, when kick-off starts and when the first goal is made. It is the same â€œI could die from happiness/Iâ€™m so excited I want to jump and cryâ€ feeling I get when the NBA season starts, when playoffs start, when school starts again and I have pre-season practices for lacrosse. Now Iâ€™ve started feeling it for soccer. I started watching every major EPL and UCL game. Freshman year I didnâ€™t have a car or a TV, so every Saturday morning when there was a 6:45 a.m. game, I ran to the YMCA near school, even when it was raining, and even in December when it was extremely cold and I didnâ€™t want to leave my bed. But I always made it. And it was always worth it. Now, Iâ€™m one of those people who actually enjoys class, and I took HUMA because Iâ€™m obsessed with classical Greek plays and mythology. I donâ€™t know how that translates to me having a less-than-exceptional class attendance record, but I have oneâ€¦and with my resurged love for soccer, itâ€™s gotten worse, because if thereâ€™s a game, Iâ€™m not in class (or I am Â very reluctantly, constantly checking updates on my phone). Since freshman year, I have only become a bigger soccer and Arsenal nerd. I re-watch old games to see what we did well and what needs improvement. I try to plan my days and class schedule around game time, and thanks to an extremely devout Chelsea fan whom Iâ€™ve recently met, who knows everything and also does this practice, Iâ€™ve started to watch the international and club under-twenty-one teams to see who the up-and-coming players in the league are.
So I may not have followed my team as long as you have, and Iâ€™m not going to be embarrassed by how I picked it, because I absolutely love my team and I love this sport just as much as you do. I am a three-year Arsenal fan and damn proud of it.