The Washington Post

Tradition trumps triumph

More so than wins and losses, sports are about ritual and tradition: Wearing your team colors, singing your team’s fight songs, debating every waiver wire pickup or trade with fellow fans at a sports bar. Few traditions are more important than those shared between parent and child.

We received dozens of submissions for the Manchester United vs. Barcelona ticket giveaway, from recent converts to the sport of soccer to lifelong Cardiff City supporters, to one gentleman who claims to have witnessed the final game played by Manchester United legend Bobby Charlton at Old Trafford.

But we chose our winner because we were touched by the idea of a father taking his 9-year-old son and soccer buddy to see his athletic idols in person for the first time.

Reader Phil from Rockville writes:

“Not only is he a huge fan, he’s a talented player and rising-star goal keeper to boot. I suppose he should be, considering his unique, err shall I say, “spiritual connection” to one of the Greats of the beautiful game -- you see, my son was delivered by the same doctor (the Brits actually call them ‘consultants’) that delivered Beckham’s and Posh’s first son at the Portland Hospital in London!! (about a year apart I believe).

“Unfortunately since we left London a few years back, my son and I have had to take watching the World Cup and FIFA matches on big screens at our “locals” here in DC-suburbia, i.e., La Tasca, Oro Pomodoro, Union Jacks, and any other bastion of European athleticism that can be found (not enough!) in this area.”

So congratulations to Phil and his son, who are off to FedEx Field on Saturday. Phil reports: “He just got a Barca jersey AND a ManU jersey sent from relatives in Europe so he’s even all kitted up for the surprise!” Hmm...Barcelona or Manchester United: That’s not a bad set of options for a lifetime of soccer fandom.

Thanks to all who submitted your stories of triumph and defeat, like reader Erich, who can be found watching Bayern Munich at Kitty O’Shea’s in Arlington:

“I was first turned on to Kitty O’Sheas during the 1999 Champions League final. As a staunch Bayern Munchen fan, I had a grin across my face going into the 90th min up a goal and Oliver Kahn manning the posts. Then disaster struck - twice. Twelve years later, I feel like I still haven’t fully recovered from that game.”

Here’s hoping that the season ahead is filled with more wins than losses, no matter which team you support.

Alex Baldinger is editor of the Going Out Guide blog, which covers food, drink, arts, music, events and other curiosities in the D.C. area. He is forever in search of a great sandwich.


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