The Beautiful Game – Grandma’s Obsession

What is it in life that makes many of us define our lives by associating ourselves with external forces, whether it’s products, or political parties, or sports teams?  This question seems to be at the heart of the story by Marina Burana titled “Soccer Sunday” ( ).  She finds in her Grandma’s obsession with the sport of soccer the love and connection that had been missing for so many years.

New York City FC v Orlando City SC
(Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)

In this story we find out that her Grandma was not the kind of Grandma that she envisioned she should be.  Her expectations were that, “Most people have fascinating grandmothers, or at least, in general, when we mention grandmas, the image of a sweet, tender, loving woman comes to mind.”  But that was not her Grandma.

Her Grandma (who was in her 80s and 90s during the story) was perceived as rude, didn’t seem to care about the rest of the family, and had a single obsession in life – soccer.  But it was when Marina decided to share her Grandma’s obsession as a last resort to get close to her that she discovered, “She was this whole other person in there….And that’s when I met my grandmother. In the soccer field.”

And it was when she eventually helped her Grandma stay in touch with the thing that was so important to her that her Grandma started sharing the love that Marina so much wanted from her Grandma.  And so that external force became the common bond that joined the two women, even though one of them had never shown an interest in soccer before.

Looking at this story using Jason Ohler’s Assessment Traits, I decided to focus on the following three traits:

  • Story –I chose this trait because it is the strength of this story. It is a story that most people can relate to because it has familiar characters (grandmothers, uncles, etc.), and taps into a common sentiment of feeling that people who you want to love you may not always love you.The story has an effective structure that works as a discovery tale.  It starts as a description of an expectation that the author has about her Grandma, and it becomes a a story of how she discovers what her Grandma is really about.
  • Flow, organization and pacing – Again, I chose this because I felt it was a strength of this story.  I felt that this was a very readable story that met my expectations for how it should develop, and that it flowed well from one part to the next.  But the flow did not seem rushed or in a hurry.  It seemed to have an appropriate pace that I want from a story about a Grandmother.  “Take your time”, I could almost hear Eliza saying.
  • Sense of audience – I chose this trait because there are a number of audiences that this story addresses, and they intertwine around a subject that is near and dear to me.  The most prominent audience is the grand-daughter / grandmother relationship, although, this story could easily be about grandsons and grandfathers.  We all have some connection with this audience, although some may feel it stronger than others.  And the author gives us a good sense of how she fits in that group. There is also the soccer fan audience, which is what initially drew me to the story.  Although the soccer can easily be seen as a secondary theme in the story, it also has a prominent role in the ability of Marina and Eliza to connect.  Sports fans in general, including soccer fans, can fully relate to the sense of being a different person when present at a sports event among other fans.

I enjoyed this story because of the compassion, humor, and feeling that was displayed by the author.  Although I was drawn to it by my love of soccer, I stayed with it because of the author’s ability to share the universal feeling of being connected with someone you want to love.


One thought on “The Beautiful Game – Grandma’s Obsession

  1. Hi David,
    I really love the topic of the story that you found. Although I am not a soccer fan, it’s great to hear how the relationship between this grandmother and granddaughter deepened through a love of soccer. It’s great that a topic so simple can really bring people together. I witness this in my everyday life with my husband, he is a die hard American football fan, he will wear various Bronco items out and people will comment, all of a sudden he is bonding with some random stranger over football.

    I think you did a great job with your critique. Your explanations for each trait is insightful and really does explain how those traits were incorporated into your story. Is there anywhere the author could have improved with storytelling, flow and sense of audience?


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