Fast. Faster. Joy.

This blog’s been getting a bit long-winded. Time to learn from the tabloids: the news you need, in the time you have. Presenting German Joy Factoids:

  • Fact: According to Titanic, German ambulance drivers have a private lingo in which they refer to doctors as "Druids" or "Higher Beings," depending on the particular ambulance firm. Epileptic attacks, however, are universally called "Dirty Dancing." In English.
  • Fact: In the television series Ma Famille from the Ivory Coast, an entire stretch of episodes during which one character complains of physical pain is called De quoi souffre Bohiri ? (What is Bohiri suffering from?). The next 2-part installment of the series is called simply: "Renal Insufficiency."
  • Fact: Germany has just won the World Championship in Handball, which, according to this news story (G), has again plunged "the entire nation into World-Championship delirium!" The President and Chancellor called to congratulate the team.
  • Fact: I don’t even know what handball is.

15 thoughts on “Fast. Faster. Joy.

  1. Handball is a kind of sports that is totally unknown to every German being except in the week of winning the world championship. Test it and ask people “Name three players!”. In German the phenomenon that the whole nation is happy about even the most useless victory is called “Wir sind wieder wer” (Not really translatable) and is, of course, somekind related to the Germany’s past.

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  2. Hmm, sounds like the Tiour De France syndrome in the US. Most Americans don’t jknow what the Tour is and have little sympathy for the sport – but Lance Armstrong made it big in the US – for a time. With the cycling demise of Floyd Landis (last year’s disqualified winner, and American) this effect may fade however.

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  3. Granted, handball usually is not a big event, but there are lots of hobby players in Germany and fans visiting the matches of the handball bundesliga.

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  4. Handball!!! Shows how incredibly desperate the German media establishment has gotten in providing the populace with the “games” part of the bread-and-games way of keeping them in check. Nonetheless … passed a pub two days ago and them thar Germans were dutifully staring at the flickering screen watching Handball championships. Seems to be working. Next on the schedule: Two minutes hate.

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  5. Martin, Handball is the most popular team ball game after football in Germany (ok, with quite a large gap, but still). It’s more popular than ice hockey or basketball, e.g. So I really don’t understand why you think German media are desperate to make an event out of the success in the world championship or claim that Germans have been “dutifully” watching Handball.

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  6. For Alex: I’m sure handball is also more popular than curling, which still doesn’t mean shit. Give readers here absolute numbers, if popularity can be measured in any way. Not that you would be able to fool anyone on the ground in Germany about handball’s popularity anyway.

    For everyone else: The general situation is like this: Games are very important for the German lower class to get a break from their dreary lives and an artificial boost to the permanently damaged self-esteem of pretty much everyone just like drug addicts give themselves a shot to escape to paradise for a minute. And just like a drug addict, they need ever increasing doses to stay happy, that’s why after the last soccer championship people were actually disappointed about a 3rd place which most coutries would be delirious about.

    Schumacher’s departure from Formula 1 sure didn’t help things either.

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  7. To add to martin’s comment: you may not know this, but the “dreary lives” the German lower class experiences is nothing like the colorful, happy, and joyful lives commonly witnessed in other countries’ lower classes. Anywhere else, it is common for the lower class to join book clubs or get involved in local politics. Not so in Germany. There, people turn to mind-numbing sports in the evening. And anyone who was in Germany in the summer of 2006 surely remembers the way the German soccer team was booed for their 3rd place.

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  8. Thanks for the insight, James. I already guessed that we are the most pitiful people in the world. Some of us even like to watch Handball.
    Martin: Actually I don’t know in absolute numbers how many Handball players there are in Germany, but I personally know a couple of people who actively played in the Regional- and Landesliga, and if you have a look on the Handball-related sites on the Internet, e.g., http://www.handballecke.de, you might guess that the game enjoys a bit of popularity here, even if you don’t happen to know somebody who is interested in it.

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  9. For those interested in the numbers — from http://www.deutscherhandballbund.de:
    Der Deutsche Handball-Bund zählt auch im Jahr 2006 zu den bedeutensten Sportverbänden in Deutschland und ist weltweit der größte Handball-Dachverband mit:
    * 826 615 Mitgliedern (Erhebung des Deutschen Sport Bundes von 2006)
    * über 5.700 Vereinen und
    * über 33.000 Mannschaften

    That makes about 1% of the population active or ex Handball players.
    OK, it’s only 15% of the members of the DFB (I said there was a large gap) but you can’t say there’s no genuine interest in Handball in Germany.

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  10. @James W.,

    I’m somehow sensing that you are trying to counter my comment, but you’re being sufficiently polemic and vague as to either put forward an actual contradiction to what I said or to qualify as a point in an argument in the first place. In any case I’m sure you can find people worse off somewhere, including, certainly, North Korea, but I don’t see how that helps the German lower class.
    And no, I didn’t say the soccer team was booed, I said people were disappointed, right? But then again, maybe you just want to troll here.

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  11. @Alex,

    let’s not kid ourselves, we both know we’re talking about handball as a spectator sport here, right? I’m sure Germans also love to go hiking in the mountains for fun and exercise, and the corresponding associations have membership numbers to show, but that sort of thing can’t very well be turned into mass euphoria to distract people from more ugly things. Show me TV ratings during 2006, or something like that.

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  12. martin, what a strange concept, people were disappointed that their team lost. Only in Germany. You’re not being serious, are you? Have you ever bothered to check an English newspaper, or a French, Swiss, Spanish, Brazilian etc. sports website during the World Cup?

    The reason I was being polemic and vague is that I find your comments so over the top that I’m not quite sure if you’re just faking it. It’s hard to contradict your broad, sweeping generalizations that are so off the mark that it’s hard to know where to start. You seriously think the German lower class is in far worse shape than anywhere else in Europe (the North Korea comment led me to think you’re writing satire)? You think the way German lower class people consume sports on TV is inherently different to the US lower class watching the super bowl? I am just asking because any of the arguments you are making on your blog could be easily applied to other nations, and yet you go to such lengths to remind the reader that you’re talking about Germany that it borders on the pathological. And for anyone who doesn’t believe me, just check out martin’s blog. I am sorry, but I don’t know if you’re for real or not. Maybe you’re just trolling.

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