10-20 Real Madrid at Bernabeu 005 10-20 Real Madrid at Bernabeu 013

Blue seats. Blue sky. A few blue jerseys, but mostly the crowd is here for the home team. Royal Madrid.

We file in, climb up, take our seats. Around us, a few people dig into bags of sunflower seeds or peanuts. Light up their cigarettes. Smoke drifts up in tiny clouds, like swarms of gnats rising from a field.

As the game gets going, the stadium vibrates. The energy is electric. Bodies moving in harmony. Voices crying out in discord, going hoarse. On my right, a man mutters muy bien every time Real does something good, and joder every time they don’t.

The biggest difference between Bernabeu and an American stadium is the focus. There are no food vendors, no beer stands, no team stores. No distractions. You are here for one thing and one thing only: to cheer your team, devotedly.

All of a sudden: GOOOOOL! Everyone erupts, happy or not.

We push up to the edge of our seats with excitement. We slump back in dejection. We heave a breath of relief. We shake our heads in frustration. Back and forth, back and forth — our emotions, the players, the ball crossing the field. This is the rhythm of sport. The rhythm of a city united for a moment in time.

4 responses to “Bernabeu”

  1. Sarah Wedgbrow Avatar

    Love this, Kristan. You’ve really captured the “beautiful game.” My favorite part is when Spanish commentators are speaking a mile a minute and then “goooooal!” Awesome stuff.

  2. Kristan Avatar

    Thanks, Sarah. :)

  3. Sonje Avatar

    I’ve never gone to a soccer game, but I’ve always thought it was well suited to watching it live. Unlike (American) football where all the angles provided by TV really make the game come to life–watching football from a stadium seat is little more than jumbles of people falling down and getting back up–the space and constant motion of soccer seem to me would work much better. Especially seeing Real Madrid! Must have been very intense!

  4. Kristan Avatar

    I think all sports are more fun/interesting live, ’cause the energy of the fans really adds to the experience, but the extra angles — and the replays, especially — do make watching on TV more helpful sometimes.

    The other interesting thing about soccer is the lack of timeouts and commercial breaks, so there’s more of a constant flow than the big American sports.