Monday, April 02, 2012

Football, Fútbol, Soccer

Brian Pan '09

Every day on my way to work, I think to myself “I actually get paid to do this!” It may sound a bit cliché, but it is true.

I played every sport possible growing up and dreamt of becoming a professional athlete. Realistically, I knew I likely I would do something else with my life. The next best thing to playing sports would be to work in sports, but even that appeared to be a long shot. And to think my first job out of college would be in sports, let alone with the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders FC, was unimaginable.

More than likely, you know the Seahawks, but odds are I lost you at Sounders FC. You either have no idea who or what the Sounders are or you are a Portland Timbers fan. To be honest, three years ago I had no idea who the Sounders FC were either. Major League Soccer may not be on the minds of many Americans, but “The World's Game” is quickly gaining favor of many sports fans in the northwest with the rivalry among the Sounders, Timbers and Whitecaps.Working with the Sounders FC has opened my eyes not only to “The World's Game,” but to the world itself. In just three years, I've traveled all over North and Central America all for the game of soccer.

Not long after obtaining my passport, I went with the team to their first international competition in El Salvador. I knew I was in for culture shock, since I had never been outside of the United States or Canada. I didn't realize just how much of a shock it would be. 

From the moment I stepped off the plane and I had to pay the ten dollar “tourism” charge, it was an adventure I'd never forget. We were greeted outside of the airport by three El Salvadorian military personnel with semi-automatic rifles! I initially thought they were normally stationed at the airport, but I later learned they were our escort to the hotel. Driving around San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, was another surprise. The fact that there were virtually no traffic laws seemed mundane compared to the shotgun welding “guards” that appeared to be in nearly every store front.

Then there was the game. the Sounders played in El Salvador's national team stadium. It was built in the 1990's, but because of the lack of maintenance it was run down and archaic. As we exited the bus, police in full riot gear created a path for us that lead directly to the locker room. There weren't many fans around at that point, so the protection seemed unwarranted. 

After the game, however, I was glad we had police protection to separate us from the mass of fans. To get from the locker room to the field we had to walk down a long flight of stairs and then up another set of stairs to emerge from beneath the field right in front of the team's bench. Once we got onto the field we were met again by the police in riot gear, as they were stationed around the outside of the field. I couldn't believe a sporting event would require so much protection for the participants. My first international trip with the Sounders was certainly an eye-opening experience.  It made me appreciate the freedom and safety we take for granted here in the U.S.

Pan '09 was a Media Arts & Film major at Pacific and was on the golf team. He works as the Digital Media Video Producer for the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders Football Club.

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