Taiqi, Basketball, Badminton and…Soccer? Popular Sports in China
To be honest, I’ve never been a particularly big sports fan. I watched a lot of organized sports growing up—soccer, football, golf, you name it. However, that was mostly because, with three brothers, I rarely got even a pinkie on the remote. Plus, I’m from Washington D.C., and—I’m sorry Nats fans—our teams rarely have winning streaks long enough to make it worth investing all your hopes and dreams in them. I’d probably care more if I had played one of those teams sports and could appreciate and admire a famous athlete’s grace or technique. But the only team sport I ever played was soccer, and I quit that in middle school because I was terrible. Since then,, I’ve stuck with swimming and running. Those kinds of individual sports–ones designed for the awkward or noncompetitive—are more my style.
All this being said, I’m always up for excursions and things that are free. So this past weekend I decided to pretend I care, and joined my fellow students on the CET-sponsored outing to a Hangzhou soccer game. Saturday was the Final Championships—of what, I’m not exactly sure—and all I know is that I should have been wearing green. Our team, I was told, is 绿城 (Lucheng—the Green City). Since, clearly, my teal shirt was not properly supportive, I purchased a green sport bag on the way into the stadium. (The bag didn’t get me to diehard fan status, but it was better than nothing and goshdarnit, I was trying, for once, to support a team! )
We settled in at our seats with popcorn and glasses of green tea (which, by the way, look disturbingly like the beers at US stadiums ). Then the game began and…
“Go, Lucheng, GOOOO!!!!”
… I was on my feet, cheering like an idiot, along with the rest of the Hangzhou equivalents of Cheeseheads.
I have to admit it—I got sucked in. I honestly had a great time. When you’re actually at a sports event, you can’t help but get caught up in the competitive atmosphere. It doesn’t matter if you’ve staunchly supported a team since birth or if you like to claim haughtily that you’re above sports altogether. Games have a way of making even the newborn fans into rabid, shrieking tarantulas. (Okay, I know that didn’t make sense, but you get the idea.)
Lucheng, as a team, is … well, here’s an analogy. Lucheng is to D.C. United as D.C. United is to Chelsea, if that gives you a sense. I think every Hangzhou Lucheng fan was at the game last Saturday, and still, the stadium was more than half empty. Nonetheless, it was disappointing when Lucheng missed shots, exciting when they made them, and exhilarating when we won and the players came over to take a victory bow in front of us fans. While Chinese soccer teams may not be as 厉害 (impressive) as European ones, and their fans may be fewer, going to a Chinese game is still well worth the experience. Take it from a non-believer … a former one.
Until next time,