Welcome to The Jerky Loudspeaker - an independent sports and culture newsletter, I’m super excited to have you here! Before you dive in, let me quickly break down how the newsletter is structured. Think of it like a mini newspaper, with three sections:
Deep Dive - Each piece/series in this section will be an in-depth analysis of the thoughts and emotions that arise from my interactions and experiences with the arts
Consumption Corner - A weekly review of what I’m watching, reading and listening to.
Balls, Bats & Baskets - As always, sports on the back page. In this section I’ll geek out about the happenings in this world of balls, bats and baskets.
Passion Projects - Once a month, I feature Q&As with creatives from different professional and personal backgrounds.
Every once in a while I stumble upon article ideas that beg for exploration. Ideas that my imagination just scratches at the surface of. Think of the ‘idea’ like a wrapped Christmas gift - imagination and observation peel enough of the wrapping away to get a complete glimpse of what lies inside. But, they aren’t capable of extracting it from the wrapping. It needs something stronger than that. It needs research to be pulled out.
Idea + Research = A finished piece.
But, research requires effort. It’s often dull and frequently daunting. Hours of screen-time go in tracking down one simple statistic or in piecing together a pattern. You open more tabs than a bartender on a Friday. Dopamine isn’t involved in any of this.
Sometimes, research also means reaching out to people for interviews. It means writing out an email you almost certainly know will require a follow up. It means DMing strangers on Twitter. It means getting on a lot of calls.
So you can see how for a man of lethargic tendencies like mine, how research becomes a significant roadblock to a finished piece.
The need for research tempers my excitement at watching an idea take shape. I’ve begun to use it as an excuse. I tell myself that writing an article that isn’t supplanted by research and a comprehensive understanding of its background would be poor storytelling. It’s how I justify procrastinating on writing. I never get around to the research and the idea remains half baked.
Over the years, I’ve got a whole batch of these half baked ideas sitting in the oven. But now, I’ve decided to take them out. I need to stop kidding myself that I’ll do the research. I’m taking them out before they completely fade away.
So, that’s the prologue to the ‘Half-Baked’ series.
In the coming few weeks, you’ll find some of these unsubstantiated trains of thought passing by your inbox. I hope you hop on.
What I’m reading: This deep-dive into Peloton - the bike company that has transformed the fitness industry by packaging its workouts as content.
What I’m watching: You love to see it.
What I’m listening to: A lo-fi Spotify playlist called ‘Flow State’. The newsletter you’re scrolling through right now was written to the backdrop of this playlist.
Balls, Bats & Baskets
The Second Club
I screamed at my television last night. Twice.
It’s been a while since football has made me feel that way. It’s been a while since the adrenaline has continued to surge after the final whistle. It’s been a while since I’ve been carried away after a result. I’m almost ashamed of how emotional England’s win over Germany made me.
I sent an embarrassingly high number of ‘It’s Coming Home’ messages after full time. It isn’t the volume that’s embarrassing; it’s the fact that Home isn’t England for me.
International football fandom is a convoluted space for those who belong to non-footballing nations. There are some who adopt a country and stick with it across tournaments. There are those who let their club loyalties carry over and align themselves with: 1) Countries that have the most number of players from their club or 2) The country their favorite players represents. Sony, India’s broadcaster for the EUROS, started a marketing campaign around the tournament with the hashtag #MeriDoorsriCountry, which translates to ‘My Second Country’. And, then there are some who shun this messaging and shroud themselves in neutrality.
Each of these layers of fandom are relatively stress free environments. Losses sting and victories excite; the lack of true attachment means they rarely move beyond that. For most such fans, international football is an escape from the club game. A breather from the insular cocoon of club fandom.
This is all of course, a hypothesis. I've supported England since the time I started following football and made the cardinal sin of making a summer fling a full-time commitment.
Slight caveat here: By full-time, I mean for that one month every two years. Between the two Croatia games in 2018 and 2021, the only other England game I watched in its entirety was the 2018 Nations League semi-final.
But for that one month, England becomes ‘us’. They are like my Second Club after Arsenal. All the emotions of a regular football season are condensed into a fortnight.Last evening, I changed into my England jersey well before kickoff to get in the mood for the game. It’s something I do for big Arsenal games.
I’ve debated how Lampard’s ‘goal’ against Germany in 2010 would have changed the course of the game. I’ve fumed over Hodgson and been smitten by Southgate. I’m eternally optimistic and regularly overestimate the players’ capabilities. I deny the existence of the country of Iceland.
Belonging can be constructed.
But, passion can’t replace patriotism. And, club loyalties find a way of seeping in. It’s why I don’t see Harry Kane as English captain, I see him as the English captain who plays for Spurs. Hard as I try, I can’t blur that out.
The absence of true belonging has its ups and downs:
Downs: The downs aren’t as debilitating.
Ups: The ups aren’t as euphoric.
I wish I had been English for those 90 minutes last night. Just so that I could truly experience the win. To fully understand the significance of it.
International fandom for those who belong to non-footballing nations can be a vicarious affair.
I’d love to hear what you thought of this week’s edition! To share your thoughts, comments or if just want to chat, hit me up at email@example.com!
I’m hosting rooms on Clubhouse every couple of days during the EUROS. To join the conversation, follow me on Clubhouse and look out for the next room I schedule!
In last week’s newsletter:
Balls, Bats & Baskets: Some thoughts on the England national team based off their performances in the first two games of the EUROS.
The toll sport takes on the sleep cycle of a fan.
Consumption Corner: A piece on Dil Chahta Hai’s cultural importance, a Serena Williams Nike ad & a Strokes song I had on repeat
Read it here !