"And the trick is that football, more than any other major sport, is one of constant fluidity. Others have lots of handholding for the viewer, with regular stops and short bursts of play before the game comes to rest again, giving the observer a chance to consider. Football, compared to baseball or American football or even basketball, never stops. ... Sensible Soccer's simplified form showed me the structures to watch for, in platonic-perfection. Sensible Soccer explained it all."
Kieron Gillen explains how a simple soccer game for the Amiga made him a better son, soccer fan and Englishman.
Hockey is the big game in my home. As a kid I would watch the New York Rangers play, with my father yelling his head off at the officials the entire time, as if there was some sort of anti-Rangers conspiracy going on among the referees. For years and years I watched. I actually realized at some point down the line that I actually don't like hockey much. I don't like any sport for that matter. One thing is clear though, I never understood hockey until about 10 years of playing. Playing the sport, understanding the mechanics of the games, helped me understand that there was a lot going in the game that the average person did not see. However, much like your story about a single game changed your perspective, a comment from a friend about baseball changed mine.
My sport was hockey his was baseball. We were watching a ball game and I made a comment about baseball being boring. It may even have been that it is the most boring thing I have ever had to endure, I don't remember what I said all that well. What was more important was his response. He told me that I found it boring because I didn't understand what was going on. I'm am American male; I've played baseball from tee-ball up until I broke my nose catching a fly-ball destroying my confidence and ending my desire to play. I told him that I knew the game. I did know the game to point. What I was missing was what he described to me. He was able to tell me, as we watched, what type of pitch was going to be thrown in each situation. That is when I realized I was missing an etire aspect of the game that was clear and obvious: the chess match. Every sport has this same level of complexity and strategy. When I watch hockey now I still don't much like it because I think cheering for a team just because they wear blue and have "New York" in the name doesn't move me, but I understand what is there that some people like. Just like in soccer there is constant motion. The game is about the back and forth battling, momentum, and passing. When I watch now I understand where the puck is supposed to go, and why it does or, doesn't, end up there. It took many years of understanding the rules, playing the game, and finally being shown a face of another sport (which I now find to be present in all sports) to show me the true depth of the game.
A great ode to the game that is still my favourite game of all time - at least in it's Sensible World of Soccer incarnations.
I'm sure you're aware that a complete version of SWOS 96/97 is headed to Xbox Live very soon. Complete with the Amiga original code and a choice of enhanced graphics!
Oh and Live multiplayer. Pant wettingly exciting.
It's also nice to have a good UK article of Escapist!