Most of the world has it, and it now appears I do as well. Bird flu? Bubonic? Nope, I’m talking about World Cup fever, of course.
I’ve been following the matches online until today when I finally found time to watch a few matches on the tele. Being an American, of course, “football” means something entirely different to me than to the fans of this most engaging spectacle. And the World Cup fans are one reason why watching the matches is a lot of fun.
Part of why I think this competition captivates most of the world, excluding most Americans, is that it’s about country and honor. Yes, these barely protected field soldiers are in the same class of multi-millionaires as our American football heroes, yet when one’s country’s pride is on the line, they seem to play with the passion and enthusiasm of pure sport. Soccer, or football for you non-Yanks, at this level does have a purity that is not often seen in professional sport, and usually something reserved for Olympian endeavors. Of course, national pride is only part of the equation: players performances in the World Cup can mean a huge increase in fat contracts offered by professional teams not to mention lucrative endorsements. But, I still want to think that the World Cup is about country first, individual second.
I captured these shots while watching the start of the Germany-Sweden match this morning. What energy these players have! It made me tired just watching, and no doubt contributed to an extra slink-down or two on the sofa. I planned to watch the second game today between Mexico and Argentina, and tried to time my dashing out for a bite of lunch and some Scrubbing Bubbles (it’s housecleaning day…odd contrast to the fancy footwork of football, but in my world quite necessary) so that I’d be back in time for the start. Unfortunately, a detour at the library made me about 10 minutes late, during which of course each side scored a goal. Sigh. But it’s a high-energy game so far, so I’m sure I’ll see more scoring action. With this football you have to pay attention and enjoy when they do score, since they do so less frequently than American football.
America doesn’t appreciate world football like it should, but it’s only a matter of time before that happens I think. Years ago the success of our women soccer team should been enough to make this sport a mainstay, and for while we too had the fever nation-wide. The game does have a strong youth following in this country, but seems to dwindle after that. A talented athlete in this country’s college system can do so well economically playing baseball, basketball, or football that you can’t blame them for choosing those paths. Hopefully, that will change.
Watching these World Cup matches has definitely made me a fan of this fluid, pure game. Lots of green grass, mano y mano, and a lot of running. A LOT of running. And my prediction for this year’s World Cup final? Germany and Brazil, and Brazil winning 4-2. Now if I can find my bookie’s phone number, maybe I can profit by this clairvoyant moment…