Trinidad & Tobago | Watching the match by not watching it

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Global Voices on Feb 24 profiles writer and blogger Nicholas Laughlin of Port of Spain, whose innovations include watching a football match by not watching it.

Link to Nicholas Laughlin's blog etc.


Laughlin’s postmodern triumph—detailed in a 17-post series during the first-leg 2006 World Cup qualifying playoff between Trinidad & Tobago and Bahrain, concluding with the entry “After the match I didn’t watch”—occurred on 12 Nov 05 (see part 1). Laughlin for the most part rejects the TV for radio, and in the time of mediated existence his experience of the match seems strangely direct for not being there. He writes, “A roar has just gone up over the neighbourhood—T&T’s scored a goal.” We thank him for dispensing, in the moment, with the football live blogger’s exclamation point(s) and boldface type.

The confessions of angst and naïveté recall Argentine crónica writer Roberto Arlt witnessing the South American Championship between Argentina and Uruguay in Nov 1929. “You will say that I am the most extraordinary liar in the whole world from what I am going to tell you,” Arlt begins, immediately squashing the journalist’s pretension to expertise. “Yesterday was the first football game I ever saw in my twenty-nine years of existence.” He does not give us an author-vacated match account, but notices the oranges that hit supporters in the head and urination from lofty places. (For the full account, in translation, see the 2002 collection from Duke University Press, The Argentina Reader: History, Culture, Politics.)

In Hornby-esque fashion, Laughlin reminds us that the football watcher—or the one not watching—connects to the spectacle in his own way, at a remove, yet still intimate with the game. In part 7, Laughlin types:

My father’s not happy about how the team is playing. He’s wondering if coach Leo Beenhakker has told the players to “take it easy.”

Snatch of TV commentary from the next room: “The sun was very, very hot.”

In the half-time crowd shots, it looked like people were partying with a kind of grim determination—jumping up & waving their flags not for fun but to show they weren’t dispirited.

About the Author

John Turnbull founded The Global Game in 2003. He was lead editor for The Global Game: Writers on Soccer (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and has also written on soccer for Afriche e Orienti (Bologna, Italy), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times Goal blog, Soccer and Society, So Foot (Paris) and When Saturday Comes. His essay "Alone in the Woods: The Literary Landscape of Soccer's 'Last Defender' " in World Literature Today was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Also for World Literature Today he edited a special section on women's soccer, "World Cup/World Lit 2011," before the Women's World Cup in Germany. The section appeared in the May-June issue. His next project is a book on soccer and faith.

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