The score never interested me, only the game
Other teams win and they’re happy, but it’s not the same. The identity is lacking. The result is an impostor in football. […] There’s something greater than the result, more lasting. A legacy.
Expanding a bit on my comment to a post on the Barcelona Football Blog about how we should take the time to enjoy the team as it is right now.
As a college sports fan, I know that great teams only last a couple seasons before everyone graduates. And I know how infrequently the truly great teams come along. I’ve learned to enjoy the teams as they come and not rue any lack of ultimate success. Winning championships is great. But so are cinderella runs into a tournament. Upsets hurt. But they don’t negate a great season. They can’t. There’s never a “next year” with a college team. Each year is always a new team to appreciate and remember.
In the professional realm, we live in an age of mercenary players with international fan followings who support the players rather than the teams they play for. Having a dynasty of a team with a core of long-term homegrown players isn’t how things are done anymore. Fans of big teams expect success immediately and don’t tolerate anything less than winning everything. And the method of achieving that success often doesn’t matter. In fact, lack of success is often taken as an injustice rather than a legitimate sporting outcome.
Yet for the past 6 years, the Barça universe has existed in its own stolen season outside of the typical professional sports world. The core players and philosophy have been consistent and the style of play is a joy to watch. I know that it won’t last. It can’t. It’s not how sports works. Xavi and Puyol will retire soon. Messi and Iniesta will age. Others will take their places but the magic is doomed to eventually go away.
This is a team I’ll be telling other people about in 20 years. I’m glad I’ve recorded a couple games for posterity since I’ll want to be able to pull them up and demonstrate why people are still rhapsodic about FC Barcelona from this time period. Did they win? Yes.
But they’re remembered for how they played the game.