I Guess That’s Why We Call Them the Blues

The Complimentary Spouse and I trekked to Orlando last weekend to see Chelsea take on Arsenal in the Florida Cup.

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: Chelsea sucked. Bad. I think they were experimenting with some new formations, but they clearly didn’t work. About halfway through the match, Britt turned to me and said, “They know they have to kick the ball to the other person, right? Not just to the general area the other person is in?”

Chelsea should have won the game handily. Instead, they lost 4-0. It was embarrassing.

OK, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about how awesome it was to see the Blues play. We didn’t go to any football matches when I was a kid in London because they weren’t safe. Check out the Wikipedia article about Football Hooliganism in the United Kingdom and you’ll see why my dad never took me to Stamford Bridge, or any other football stadium for that matter.

Britt and I have toured Stamford Bridge, but have never seen Chelsea play live. We bought tickets for the match at Camping World Stadium in Orlando as soon as they went on sale.

We arrived to find the stadium (which no one would describe as a world-class sports facility) decked out for the game, with large banners for both teams:

No camping allowed.
You can’t spell “Arsenal” without “arse.”

In front of the stadium, there were separate areas for Chelsea and Arsenal fans. Chelsea had a large stage, great music, and some of the silverware1 on display:

Did you know there’s a mix-up of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”? Now you do.

Here’s Britt and me hanging out with the Premier League cup:

Trophy husbands

Of course, they were selling T-shirts, kit, and plenty of other souvenirs. As you can see, the Chelsea stuff was on the right. I turned to Britt and very loudly said, “If you even think about buying anything on the left, I’ll divorce you.”

Overpriced T-shirts? I’ll take two.

Stamford the Lion walked past us as we entered the stadium:

He’s Grrrrreat!

He was followed by Bridget the Lioness:

You can’t hide your lion eyes.

Considering that Chelsea play at Stamford Bridge, I think Stamford and Bridget are pretty clever names for the mascots.

I believe there is a law now that requires “Sweet Caroline” to be played at all sporting events in the United States. We dutifully sang along. About halfway through the video below, you’ll see Britt and me doing our part to keep the blue flag flying high:

Since it was a night game, the weather wasn’t as bad as you’d imagine — in the mid-80s with tolerable humidity.

Pitch perfect

If you’ve never been to a football game, you’re missing out. Games can be a bit monotonous on teevee, which, I suspect, is why many Americans consider the sport to be boring. But when you’ve experienced football live, you see things from a completely different perspective and gain a new appreciation. You’re transfixed because the ball is constantly in motion and the game doesn’t stop. (A sport without commercial breaks? Yes, it exists!) You’re transfixed on the action.

In our section — which was packed with Chelsea fans — no one sat down for all 90 minutes of play. No one looked at their phones. We were just hundreds of people, connected by a shared experience. It’s kind of transcendental if you think about it.2

So, despite the humiliating loss, Britt and I had an incredible time. I hope our next Chelsea match will be at Stamford Bridge, but the Blues are welcome back in America anytime.

1 Needless to say, the silverware display at Stamford Bridge is much more impressive. Here’s just one photo from a room packed with display cases:

2 Name any other transcendental experience that involves nachos and beer. I’ll wait.



The Complimentary Spouse and I went to an NBA game Saturday night. It was my first basketball game in more than two decades — my brother and I went to an Orlando Magic game sometime in the ’90s, but I don’t recall exactly when. After this weekend’s experience, I’m hooked on live basketball!

In general, I prefer live sports to games on teevee. Being at home is more comfortable, to be sure, and close-ups, color commentary, and replays are great. But there’s nothing like being part of a communal experience.1 And, at live games, there’s no filter between you and the game.

Live basketball games are fast. They’re fun. They’re fantastic. The thing I enjoyed the most was the music — it’s played throughout the action, which does three things:

  • It creates a party-like atmosphere
  • It provides cues about which team has the ball
  • It keeps people engaged during those lulls when the gameplay isn’t so thrilling

Compare this to hockey, football, and baseball. Music is reserved for the period between plays or used as walk-up songs. Basketball uses music to heighten the experience in a way those other sports don’t.2

What made Saturday’s game extra special was that we went with my cousin and his daughter, who were visiting Tampa for the weekend. Regrettably, we couldn’t sit together. We got our tickets before they made their plans, and Ticketmaster wouldn’t let us add two adjoining tickets to our seats for Rich and Sabrina. When we got to Amalie Arena, we found out why. To deal with Covid, the arena has locked up most of the seats with plastic ties. Therefore, the ones next to Britt and me were unusable — even if Rich and Sabrina snuck down to our section, they wouldn’t have been able to unfold the seats.

I was impressed with how Amalie Arena has responded to Covid. Seating is limited, concession areas have dividers between the staff and the customers, and mask rules were enforced.

You might wonder how Britt and I could see a live basketball game in Tampa when our area doesn’t have a basketball team. Well, since Covid has restricted travel between the United States and Canada, the Toronto Raptors have made Tampa their temporary home. We’re good hosts: We’ve gone all out with Raptors digital signage, including ads for Canadian and Toronto-based businesses. Lots of Raptors fans were in the stands. The only things missing were poutine, Tim Horton’s, and people saying “aboot.” 

Britt and I already have tickets to another Raptors game. And I think we’re going to try to work some games into our future travels.

Here’s a video and some photos:

1 This is also why I like seeing movies in the theater, even though it’s expensive.
2 I wonder if the players like it. I think it must be distracting for them.


I Will Always LV You

Here’s a glimpse at the Super Bowl LV Experience at Julian B. Lane Park in Tampa last weekend. This is the only public event the Complimentary Spouse and I have visited since the pandemic began. Everyone mostly appeared to be following the rules, although people were closer together than they should have been and, of course, there were a few attendees who haven’t yet figured out that masks are supposed to cover your nose. When we were in line to see the Lombardi Trophy, I had to remind the couple behind us to stay a few feet back. They seemed a bit perturbed but did so anyway. We didn’t stay long and didn’t visit any attractions that were partially indoors.

A few observations:

  • The cheapest T-shirts were $50. I didn’t buy one.
  • There were a ton of religious nuts with loudspeakers outside.1
  • There were lots of red caps there. Thankfully, they were Buccanneers and Chiefs caps, not Hooray for Domestic Terrorism caps.
  • Britt and I wore T-shirts and shorts. How wonderful it is to be a Tampeńo in February!

1 Maybe you should be more concerned with feeding the homeless, sir. My soul is going swimmingly.


Rammer Jammer Yellowhammer

Everyone at Camp David will be rooting for the Crimson Tide tonight. The Complimentary Spouse has been an Alabama diehard since he was in utero, and Dave became a fan by osmosis.

Sadly, Britt and I won’t be at tonight’s championship game against the Ohio State University Buckeyes1 — and, even if we could be there, the University of Alabama Million Dollar Band can’t strut their stuff at halftime because of Covid. Here’s their performance from the Louisville-Alabama game we attended in Orlando in 2018.

Give ’em hell, Alabama!

1 There’s no fucking way I’m capitalizing the “the” in front of the school name. Brutus the Buckeye can suck it.

Entertainment Sportsball

Who Lives in a Pineapple and Throws a TD?

Unlike the Complimentary Spouse, I’m something of a passive sports fan. I enjoy soccer, football, hockey, baseball, and more, but I don’t follow every single goal, touchdown, and home run. It’s not surprising to find me playing with my phone, only partially paying attention, while a game is on teevee.

Tonight, I saw a sports revelation. The Bears-Saints game was broadcast on Nickelodeon — yes, the kids’ channel best known for Spongebob Squarepants — and I loved every second. The announcers didn’t dumb the game down, but they made sure everyone could follow the action. That made the game fun and engaging for everyone, not just the die-hard sports fans who memorize every stat, know every rule, and remember every player’s name. The commentary was entertaining and the graphics were amusing. It was refreshing. It was a blast. 

Based on what I’ve seen on Twitter, a lot of people agree with me. I hope someone at ViacomCBS (Nickelodeon’s parent company) pays attention to all the positive feedback. I want some of the fun elements I saw today to make their way into mainstream football broadcasts.