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Indy Eleven vs. Ft. Lauderdale Strikers...or...Quality and the lack thereof

I've been watching enough soccer lately that I think I can dispense with my American fan's lament over committing another two hours (more if you include driving time) and about $40 all-told just to watch another, bloody, scoreless tie. But it still frustrates me...

A 0-0 tie is like a dull ache you can't locate and can't cure; it's the quiet ringing in your ears that keeps you from sleeping; it's the spot on your back that you can't itch. Furthermore, I feel ambiguous towards last night's game, both in terms of the play and in terms of idea of going back to watch the Indy Eleven play.

As a novice football consumer (did I just say "football"?), I've been going further and further down the quality chain over the past few weeks, in an effort to keep the embers of my new-found fanhood alive, from World Cup, to Premier League, to MLS, and now to NASL (and soon on to some college ball once Butler and IUPUI start up); the differences are subtle but evident. Not something that's easy to put into words...but the overall measuring criteria would include physical ability, passing, mis-kicks, positioning, overall soccer intelligence, intention, and...oh yeah...EXECUTION (easy to forget, on nights like last night: the point of this game is to put the ball in the back of the onion sack). Those criteria all measured separately and judged as a whole add up to this notion of "quality," in my mind, or lack thereof. 

If you love something, I believe it's important to appreciate it at all levels; not only do you learn more about it that way, but you maintain grounded in reality. For example, I love wine and I've dedicated a decent amount of time to learning about it. But I can assure you, no matter how much I learn or how advanced my tastes get, I'll still never turn up my nose or be too good to enjoy some box wine or a bargain bottle (also cause I'll probably never be rich); to do so would be snobbery. Under the right conditions, a good boxed chardonnay can provide as much enjoyment as a $60 bottle from an artisan vineyard in the Napa Valley. Same with soccer, or film, or music, or whatever happens to be your thing. 

However...and...this is a big however...the question is how much are you willing to pay just for the privilege of sating your passion for something, even if it's at a lower quality level. Somehow we lucked into a pair of $10, last-minute tickets last night (because I accidentally bought seats in the Handicapped Section. Oops!); seats in that section usually cost about $30-$50. That's well into the price range when I start wondering if there might be a soccer game on TV. I'll drink box wine and enjoy it based on its own merits, but I'm not shelling out $60 for it. Same with soccer...

...I can definitely appreciate that the Eleven are an expansion team and therefore need local support and time to get their act together. But I'm definitely not paying more than $10 a ticket until I see some good reason to do so. Right now I don't. 

Still and all, it was a fairly exciting game with some good, hair-raising chances by both teams. Indy had more chances, it seemed, which makes it all the more depressing that they couldn't put it away. Indy's loss of Jermaine Johnson (FWD) to a red card early in the second half dampened whatever offensive momentum they might've had rolling, though to be fair we kept up a decent showing and still managed to hold the Strikers scoreless.

Will I go back? Doubtless, yes. I'm not so obtuse as to give up on an endeavor just because of one mediocre experience (if I did that, I'd have never had sex after the first time), but my old nemesis the nil-nil tie makes it a little difficult to come away from the game thinking it was worthwhile use of my evening and my hard-earned cash...

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