It’s hard for even a month to go by without having to make some reference to the New York Times.  We’ve always felt (and said) that there seems to be a great connection between the leading US paper and the Basques.  Again, like we’ve always said, we don’t say this because this newspaper is “benevolent” with the Basques, but rather because it deals with them directly, rather than reflexively replicating the image others in Spain and France might put forward of us.

And they’re back today, thanks, surprisingly, to one of their sports journalists, Rory Smith, who is their leading soccer correspondent.  From his base in Manchester, UK, he covers all aspects of European soccer.

On May 19, he wrote a stunningly beautiful article about the departure of Aritz Aduriz, the San Sebastian-born player for Athletic Bilbao who has become a legend in Basque soccer.  We only wish the article had started with the line “The Basque striker Aritz Aduriz”.

In today’s newsletter, which we’re subscribed to, there was an excellent article explaining what makes Athletic such a special soccer team.  It goes on to explain the “Athletic model”, from a friendly point of view, which we must admit we admire.  It’s a vision of soccer which, despite the limitations and mistakes any human endeavor has, stands out in world soccer, because it points to values and feelings that go far beyond thinking that your team ought always to be the champion.

One of the last lines of the article really prove that point:

A team’s worth does not always have to be gauged exclusively by league position. Sometimes, success can just be having a team that is of a place, and has to take on the world.

We’ll leave you with the article on the Athletic Model included in the NYT newsletter, as well as with the article on Aritz Aduriz and his career as a professional soccer player (which requires subscription, US$1/month).

New York Times – 22/5/2020 – USA

Being More Like Athletic Bilbao

Athletic Bilbao feels on the inside precisely as it appears from the outside. To Aritz Aduriz, the striker who retired from the club this week, it always had the air of a “neighborhood team taking on the world.” It was a club in which the players shared a background and an outlook, in which the line between the squad and its public was blurred to the point of invisibility, a team that is of a place in a sport that knows no borders.

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New York Times – 19/5/2020 – USA

Aritz Aduriz has thought, every day, about the goodbye he might never have. It is not his first thought: That, of course, is his family, his wife and daughters, locked down with him in their apartment in central Bilbao, Spain. It is not his priority: That is hoping the deaths cease, the coronavirus crisis eases, and one day they might all be able to go outside again.

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The New York Times does not allow for automatic translation; you have to copy and paste the text into Google yourself

Header photo: Players like Inaki Williams understand, and embrace, the connection between Athletic and its Basque identity. Jon Nazca/Reuters