domingo, 28 de octubre de 2018

I'm sick of "el clásico"

Every year it’s the same story when Real Madrid and Barcelona soccer teams clash: tons of pages in the papers and across the web; any kind of sports specialists talking endlessly on TV with every possible analysis, statistics and predictions; people scheduling when, where and whom to watch the game with, surrounded by a wide range of spirit beverages (without that "fuel" it wouldn’t make any sense); and trolling stupidly on social media.

And yeah… I admit I was part of it. Or should I say “I am part of it”? I’m not sure, but I’m trying to leave it behind, hard but not impossible.

As far as I remember during the seventies and early eighties, Spanish soccer league was almost completely unknown in El Salvador. The only European soccer games that we could watch on TV Channel 4 were some of German league on Sunday early mornings. Salvadoran people were concerned about local teams as Águila, FAS, Alianza, Atlético Marte and so forth, none of them transmitted by television. It was not until Mágico González (our best all-time player) was hired by Cádiz CF in 1982 that the papers began to give some faint coverage on Spanish league, but not focused on the big ones.

The evil plan started in the nineties, when papers and local TV stations began to feed us with Real Madrid and Barcelona news, slightly increasing the amount of information that didn’t matter, but that had the ability to set up people for consuming it.

Nowadays, when we have to pay for exclusive TV Spanish soccer league airings, it may sound like fiction to say that in the two-thousands we could watch the main games on local TV for free, specially the two “el clásico” yearly editions. But “there isn’t such thing as a free lunch”. Now we know: they were just doing their job… creating addiction.

And I fell out…

My first “el clásico” as a true fan experience was in 2003-2004 season. Barcelona won at Real Madrid’s home, Xavi scored the key goal with Rijkaard’s as a head coach and Ronaldinho as a rising mega-star. I must have interrupted my lunch at least ten times.

From that moment on, I anxiously followed not only every single “el clásico” edition, but the whole Barcelona’s matches (expecting wins) and almost all Real Madrid’s games (hoping loses). And the marketing knew.

Then, the machine started to reveal itself. First, they cut off free TV airings and sold the Spanish soccer league copyrights to ESPN, available only on cable (so, for the first time ever you had to pay for viewing); then, when finally you had signed for 18-month standard cable service… they sold the copyrights to SkySports, a new service you had to hire if you still wanted your drug.

Oh, but they were considerate: they allowed TDN to keep airing some anodyne La Liga weekly games, maybe one or two Barcelona or Real Madrid games a month and, showing mercy on you, the first “el clásico” match of each season. They kept giving you some sweets, in case you hadn’t decided to buy SkySports TV yet.

And finally happened what we all suspected and feared from the beginning: no more “el clásico” on TDN, you have to fall into the hands of SkySports if you want your object of desire. Their win-win game is now quite clear.

Having said the above, one could think that, at the end of the day, people have freedom to look, pursue or get what they want, and what makes them happy. Ok, but in this particular issue that so called “freedom to choose” is the expected result of the progressively and unaware mass media brainwashing.

Sadly, here in Unredempted Guanaxia (more than 5,000 miles away from any Spain city) people were killed among ridiculous arguing after some “el clasico” matches, which makes absolutely nonsense considering the null life improvement effect after every Real Madrid – Barcelona (whatever was the result), not only related to people’s basic needs, but also about mental health (fanaticism, bigotry, etc.). Also, people are blinded to the fact that Pipil fans are unimportant for those teams, to say the least.

Even though all of these rational arguments, I’m still struggling against “el clásico” addiction and I hope someday I’ll break free. I hope today would be remembered as the day I took one strong step ahead, because… guess what? While Barcelona - Real Madrid (October 28, 2018 edition) were playing, I was writing this post without seeing or hearing any broadcast… only checking occasionally the web.

By the way, Barcelona won 5-1.

miércoles, 10 de octubre de 2018

When I was 14


When I was 14, I was in 9th grade at Champagnat high school. At that time, that was the end of so called “third cycle on basic education” and for the next year I had to choose some kind of specialized bachillerato (that meant the cycle of middle-education consisting in 10th, 11th and 12th grade, just before college or university).

On that purpose, the school brought me and my classmates the opportunity to take a career aptitude and personality test managed by psychologists from UCA, so that we (as very immature teenagers) could make a better choice.

Since a few months before, I had been considering basically two options: academic bachillerato, focused in subjects like math and physics (wich was supposed to prepare me for further university studies), or industrial bachillerato, focused in practical duties like electricity (wich also would allow me to follow a college career later). It's not superfluous to say that this second option implied me to left the place where I was studying for ten years and to enroll in Santa Cecilia high school.

It's important to say that, at that time, career tests weren’t as usual as they are nowadays, because psychology itself were just starting to develop as a profession in our country, so the experience promised to be quite new and interesting; furthermore, I had been very confused about the big question, what should I study? As far as I can remember, I was far away from any final decision.

So, I started the tests with high expectations, hoping to find some existential answers to clarify my immediate future. After the tests and when the D-day arrived a couple of weeks later… well, the results were not exactly as I had been expected.

The psychologist brought me the definitive sheet of paper with the results… and I anxiously focused my attention on the last paragraph, the final and highly expected recommendation which was supposed to guide my confused teenage-life among the entangled paths of fate: “You are fit for any kind of bachillerato, since you have all the abilities required to succeed in any field”. And if it hadn't been enough, it was followed by this enlightning answer: “Considering your personal interests, industrial bachillerato is recommended and, as a second option, academic bachillerato.”

Ok, guys, thanks for nothing!

Nevertheless, now (more than 35 years later) that I’ve read the previous paragraphs on that very sheet, I’ve found some funny and interesting comments (maybe I’d say “diagnoses”) about me.

Regarding my character and personality, they said: “You defend your ideas and state your points of view, without conceding unless solid arguments are given, but you’re at risk on become stubborn. It’s recommended for you try to be more flexible and fight some tendency to be self-enclosed”.

Well, I can’t deny it, neither at that time nor nowadays.

But they also said: “You’re a very reflective person, patient, generally on good mood, idealist, trusted, tolerant and thoughtful”.

“Patient, generally on good mood” when I was 14…? Come on, guys! Are you sure you didn’t swap some of my tests accidentally with someone else’s?