Come on, you Spurs!
Xs and Arrows
December 5, 2020
As COVID-19 shifts the way many fans watch sports, I must admit I have adopted a new guilty pleasure. In case you were not aware, we are in the midst of the 2020-21 Premier League soccer season and I feel it's important to recognize one of my new favorite teams, Tottenham Hotspur Football (or soccer for us Americans; don't worry there are a lot of those terms to keep track of). Not sure why it took me this many years to actually cheer for a Premier League Club, but thanks to Amazon's "All or Nothing" series which followed the Spurs last season, I am now a fan.
First, hats off to Amazon and the producers of "All or Nothing." It's a great series that has followed other Premier League Clubs like Manchester City, it has also been around the New Zealand All Blacks rugby side and covered a few teams in the National Football League. However, the intrigue of the Premier League model from a professional soccer imbecile like myself was both educational and fascinating. Plus, manager Jose (pronounced Jo-Say) Morinho is both entertaining and unbelievably passionate about his work.
While my international soccer knowledge was limited, college soccer has played a role in my sports journalism career. I admittedly knew little about the game having never played it until I arrived onto a college campus without a football team in the late 1990s. Our fall squad by default became our soccer team, and as a young sportswriter I learned the game while covering those teams. Fast forward into life as a professional and working in the college athletic ranks, again at a school without a football team, soccer was the default fall sport for fans to support. It was there that I had the chance to work with top-level coaches, former professionals and eventually some athletes that went on to Major League Soccer and the US Men's National Team. It was there that I was exposed to the wonder of the beautiful game by some brilliant minds and athletic talent, even calling the matches as a broadcaster but quick to turn around and ask the real soccer minds their opinion of my skill set. To this day I cannot imagine I was any good, but the international parents watching from abroad seemed to enjoy it; mission accomplished, I guess.
These days with nothing to cover on the local front, it's on to finding new sports that pique my interest. I have grown tired of the NFL, lackluster performances, outspoken athletes, an injury-riddled season jamming up my weekends. But now that I have a better understanding of European Soccer, I'm either watching the Spurs early Sunday morning during their Premier League fixtures (that's soccer for schedule) or checking scores throughout the week as they compete in the Europa League Cup as well.
The Premier League is a fascinating study in professional sports franchise operation. They also have this thing called relegation where the last three teams are kicked out of the league and sent to the American-equivalent of the minor leagues while the top three in those lower divisions get to play with the big boys. It is motivation to play every season and puts meaning on nearly every contest throughout the schedule. There are no "playoffs" so each contest matters in the table (that's soccer-talk for standings.)
I am not an expert by any means, but the Spurs have given me something to cheer for in a sports world heavily impacted with the pandemic. I even purchased my first team hat, so if you see me sporting something that looks like a rooster standing on top of an old soccer ball, that's the Spurs logo. "Come on You Spurs" is the fans' chant for their club and inside their billion-dollar stadium you'll find the word "To Dare is to Do," derived from the team seal and the Latin "Audeat-est-facere" reflecting the fighting spirit of the 14th-century's Sir Henry Percy, the motivation behind the club's name.
These days we could all use a little more motivation like that. I will take mine in the soccer(football) form for now.
Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. He can be reached at [email protected] Read more content at http://www.CostelloeMedia.com.