Wednesday, July 6, 2011

BLOG: Fan Conversion 101
by George Sedgwick of the Philly Gooners 

Some of you have a terrible problem: your significant other is NOT an Arsenal fan.  Don’t feel bad–this predicament is a common one.  In North America, there are many boyfriends, girlfriends, wives, husbands, and semi-intelligent pets who do NOT support the Arsenal. Crazy, right?  But the good news is that I’m here to help.  With a few exceptions, I may have the information you need to change things for the better.

So let’s do this.

First, if your significant other supports Manchester United, Tottenham, or Stoke, there’s nothing I can do.  Nothing at all.  Even Dr. Phil would shrug his shoulders and go straight to commercial.  So, you have to end it right now.  Simply say “It’s not you…it’s not me…it’s your team” and walk away.  Trust me, you can do so much better.  

Second, if your mate roots for Chelsea, Manchester City, Real Madrid, or Barcelona, there’s no hope for a successful long-term relationship.  Sorry, but thems the breaks.  Immediately drain his or her bank account and send the money to Arsene Wenger in an envelope marked “Spend Now.”  Then dump your date the way Chelsea sacked Ray Wilkins, suddenly and without explanation.  (zing!) 

For the rest of you sad supporters who bear the burden of non-Gooner mates, there may be a solution.  You see, anyone with an intelligent, soccer-oriented mind would choose Arsenal over the other teams, without a doubt.   Here, for example, is a typical conversation I might have when meeting another intelligent soccer fan for the first time.

George: Nice to meet you.
Intelligent Soccer Fan: Nice to meet you, too.
George: So you follow soccer?
Intelligent Soccer Fan: I prefer to call it “football.”
George: As do I.  
Intelligent Football Fan:  But yes, I love football.  And by that I mean that I love Arsenal.
George: Of course.  And your favorite players are…?
Intelligent Football Fan: Anyone who plays for Arsenal, but not Denilson.
George: You have superb taste….

Believe it or not, I have this conversation several times a day.  But the point is that anyone who knows football should appreciate Arsenal.  The problem in the USA is that many significant others don’t understand football.  They like to say “You’re getting up at 7 a.m. to watch what?” or “So there’s no quarterback?”

To win these folks over, I suggest you say, literally, all or most of the following.  I strongly encourage a word-for-word approach, but if you want to wing it, be my guest, Cyrano!

1.  Because Arsenal play in the U.K., and England is ahead of us by x number of hours, we can be done watching by noon. Honey, this will leave us plenty of time to go antiquing!!! 

2. Because football doesn’t stop, there are no commercials during the game.  You can watch for 45 minutes, take a break, then watch the rest.  No more talking reptiles!  No more John Madden voice-overs about foot fungus! 

3.  Honey, for most games, the match lasts 90 minutes.  There aren’t additional innings, long pauses, or sudden death periods.  So, the games don’t go on and on, unless Manchester United needs a little more time to score.  We’re talking about two hours for the average Arsenal match, no more.  That leaves us lots of weekend time to do yard work or wait in line at Ikea!

4.  And honey, Arsenal’s home field is in London.  So when we go see them in the Fall, we can also spend a few hours sight-seeing.  Wouldn’t that be great?   (For advanced students only: See, aren’t you glad I don’t support Birmingham?)

5.  Oh, and everything we miss in Autumn we can catch when we see Arsenal again in the Spring!  Wouldn’t that be awesome?  We can see Tafalgar Square in April, or we can go visit your parents in Schenectady….For me, the choice is obvious. 

6.  I forgot to mention that Arsenal also play, regularly, in the Champions League.  Wouldn’t you like to go to Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Portugal, or Belgium?  Hmmm? 

7.  Check out this awesome Arsenal kit I bought you!  No, it’s not that weird blue one! 

And finally…

8. Arsenal play with style.  They operate within legitimate financial means and they are the only club to have gone unbeaten!  In short, they are by far the best team the world has ever seen. 

Frankly, if none of these turn the screw, then you need to visit my dating website,, which will be active soon.  Donations welcome!

For a first-hand account of significant-other-fan-conversion, see also co-host Kyle Van Buren’s account of his wife’s first Arsenal match. George Sedgwick is the branch manager of the Philly Gooners and a regular contributor to the Arsenal Review USA Podcast. Check back for more of his writing throughout the summer…