Thursday, June 22, 2006

Heading To Ghana

I have to confess something.
I tell my old friends in Michigan that i just don't have time for sports anymore.
They don't interest me.
They're a waste of time, energy and investment.
I'm too busy.
I have better things to do.
Sports are lame.

This coming from someone who's highly competitive (though not very good at any sport, though i can hold my own if pushed/peer-pressured).
From someone who grew up in a family that cherished football on Sundays, Nascar and related auto racing events on Saturday nights, attended a Big Ten university and lived in the athlete-heavy dorms for a year.
I was never a die-hard sports fan but i was into it enough. i rooted for my home team.
i got excited when 'we' won.

but as i got older, i got busier. other things took precedent.
it became a chore to follow sporting events.
too much effort. other things are more important.
time becomes increasingly precious.

yeah, i know, shut the fuck up already and make my point.


so confession:
i've really been getting into the world cup in the last few weeks.
it's fun. it's exciting. it's a totally different thing entirely from American-exclusive sports.

this is worldwide. it's much much bigger.

i think it really dawned on me how big it was when i was in greece a month ago.
people were INTO IT.

it was evident everywhere, most definitely in munich, where i sat in the airport for a five-hour layover after missing a connecting flight to athens.

since the world cup is being held in germany, the pre-hype was everywhere you looked. every single store seemed like it had SOMETHING celebrating the world cup.
the logo was inescapable.
magazine covers touted the world's biggest stars, most notably Ronaldinho, who plays for Brazil, the defending World Cup champs.
At first glance, i thought Ronaldinho is an odd looking chap, for sure.

But then i watched him play.
And he's just mezmerizing. He's so good.
He should be, since he's rated the #1 Soccer player in the world.

I guess i realized that i should catch on and see what's up with what is definitely the biggest sporting event on planet Earth.
you know?
here in america we are so insular, so focused on ourselves, so self-important, that we think the whole world should do what we do. we've got our own sports, our own 'world' series type events.

this is so huge. i just love catching even a flicker of the excitement generated by the various matches from day to day, getting to know various countries and their players.

I'm not necessarily rooting for anyone but i like watching Brazil (who doesn't like a winner?), Germany, England, Spain, and so many others.

Living where i'm do, i'm fortunate enough to be surrounded by people from all over the world when watching most of the games. People with actual vested interest in their country's team, as these incredible athletes compete in a game all at once both relatively simple and complex.

I never thought i'd ever be so into a sporting event but this is different.
As i read or heard somewhere, the World Cup is like 30 days of the Superbowl every single day.

I mean, movie studios are holding off on releasing their super big blockbusters until after the World Cup is over in July because movie attendance dwindles so considerably during the event.

It also means more because it only happens once every four years, so a country has bragging rights for a long-ass time.
Unlike American sports, where pretty much the "world champion" holds onto that title for less than a year.

i dunno...i finally get it.
i finally understand the fascination and fervor surrounding the event.

i don't necessarily think i'll become an avid soccer watcher after this.
but i think i'll at least pay a bit more attention to it.

wait...i was just thinking of something else.

i like it because it gives me a sense of unity with people from all over the globe.
for one month, the entire world is focused on it.

we're talking like a billion people easily.
probably more than that, but i have no stats and i don't feel like looking that shit up right now.

for a brief time, we can all sorta forget our various cultural differences, root for our favorite teams, and have a damn fine time doing it.
the camaraderie.

and hell, we need something positive to think about for a change.

fuck yeah.

world cup fever.
i have it.

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