Football viewing centers: For the love of the shouting

It is no news that football is loved by many people around the world, including Nigerians. Lots of Nigerians love watching football and the streets are emptied at night in the viewing centers. While many cannot watch it at the comfort of their homes because they have no access to cable services, what baffles me is why the many people who obviously have it at home still run to the viewing centers.

My uncle’s wife renewed the cable subscription sometime last year and she was careful enough to include the sports channels for live matches. My uncle can stay out late because of football. One lovely Sunday, after we got home from church, we had lunch and my uncle dressed up to go to their usual meeting point. My aunt told me he would still go out even if I changed to the sports channel. I argued with her and changed to the match that had already begun.

“Uncle, they have started o”, I called out to him.

He dashed down to the sitting room and stood in front of the television.

“Uncle, sit down na”, I said in a bid to show interest so he could stay home.

“What are these guys playing?”, he snapped. “Tell Chimene that I have left him. He should meet me there”. And my uncle hurried out of the door. Chimene is his brother in-law. His wife only gave me the I-told-you look with a smile. I didn’t understand why. I later found myself watching the UEFA finals between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, with my aunt and cousins around me, sleeping. I shouted, snorted and argued with myself. It was no fun!

Then I understood better when I visited the viewing center two weeks ago to watch the match between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid. You could shout at a player’s move and have someone to argue with. You could condemn the formation and analyze the possibilities of a win if a particular player were in place. The commentator over the television has no voice in a viewing center because the hall is full of commentators. Funny comments to send laughter across the hall add more fun to the match.

There may be more to it than I have come to know. To the football lovers: what makes the viewing center more interesting?

Sincerely, thank you for reading.

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