Equally, the iconic images confuse you. The absolutely showy seconds, caught on film, played forever in slow motion over recent AOR hits on evening television aren't what football are about. Not really, any more than the icing's the cake or the orgasm's the sex. You watch a 90-minute game; it's not really for the high marks of skill. In fact, if you watch a game in real life, you can barely see the skill when it happens. It may be part of the payoff, but football - the bit you should be watching - is a structural thing.
And the trick is that football, more than any other major sport, is one of constant fluidity. Others have lots of handholding for the viewer, with regular stops and short bursts of play before the game comes to rest again, giving the observer a chance to consider. Football, compared to baseball or American football or even basketball, never stops. You have to read it on the fly, following a long tactical sentence of meaning. To really watch a game of football is to know why the ball is moving over there, why that defender is being pulled from position, what is going to happen next. Or, rather, what should happen next, and why someone's being a bloody idiot if he doesn't do it. That is, to understand its language and grammar; to read it. Sensible Soccer's simplified form showed me the structures to watch for, in platonic-perfection. Sensible Soccer explained it all.
After Sensible Software, I understood football. I was never going to love football as much as - say - any of the narrative forms, or a decent conversation or a movie. I was never going to love it like my dad - the sort of love which redecorates the garage door with an enormous Everton logo when they got to the cup-final - but I get it, and know why - as far as sports go - there's none finer, and why it's the world's favorite. And I like understanding it, and I understand liking it.
Kieron Gillen has been writing about videogames for far too long now. His rock and roll dream is to form an Electro-band with Miss Kittin and SHODAN pairing up on vocals.