How Ramadan Helped Make Me A Soccer Fan

In the Name of God: the Infinitely Merciful and Compassionate Beloved Lord

Growing up, I never really liked soccer. I had played it at the age of nine for one year and hated the experience (probably because I was so bad at it). So, when the World Cup started, I had an aloof interest but was never really into the tournament. That is, until Ramadan started.

Ramadan, the ninth Islamic month during which Muslims (including this one) forgo food and drink from dawn until sunset, started on June 28. That happened to be the very same day the "knockout round" of the World Cup began. So, to help pass the time - and there's a lot of it to pass - I started watching each game. And I really liked what I saw.

I didn't realize how great international soccer can be, even though the scores are much lower than that to which we Americans are accustomed. There is a lot of amazing athletic ability, intrigue, strategy, and sheer excitement. Of course, I was rooting for the USA and was very saddened when they lost to Belgium. But, even after our guys went home, I continued to watch the other matches, and it was a truly enjoyable experience.

Indeed, I should have been reading scripture and been engaged in deep spiritual reflection since this is, after all, Ramadan. But, the World Cup only comes around once every four years, and the games this year have been, quite honestly, too good to pass up. I now truly can't wait to see the Brazil-Germany game later this afternoon, and I'm looking forward to watching the Netherlands take on Argentina.

I'm beginning to learn various players' names; I've asked friends and family about the various rules of international soccer and the different leagues around the world. I am beginning to look forward to watching the games in the Premier League and other leagues across Europe. I even watched a Chicago Fire game the other day on TV (although, I must admit, it wasn't as exciting). Moreover, I really like the fact that I can watch an entire half commercial free, and this makes the game all the more enjoyable. In fact, I wish more American sports games on TV had the same set up.

All this because the World Cup happened to be during Ramadan in Summer, when I can't eat for a very, very, very long time. Again, ideally, I should have spent all those hours - watching the amazing goals and penalty kicks, blocks and extra time - reading scripture and praying to God. That's what Ramadan is truly all about: self-reflection and spiritual renewal. But, I couldn't help myself. The games were truly awesome. I pray the Lord forgives me for all those hours spent watching soccer when I should have been worshiping.

But I hope and pray it will ultimately be a good thing, especially if it gets me more excited about playing soccer with my kids, two of whom are slated to play this fall. What's more, perhaps the next time someone walks up to me - as I am wearing my Arsenals jersey - and says, "Tough season for the Gunners, man!" I will have some inkling as to what in God's Most Holy Name he is talking about.



Filed under: American Islam

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