Friday, June 16, 2006
World Cup Fever
For those of you living in an US-centric world without access to ESPN, the soccer phenomenon of the World Cup is taking Germany by storm. Soccer is a far bigger sport outside the US than it is domestically. Its a fairly easy sport to play and the start up costs are exceptionally cheap. All you need is a dirt field and, two goals, and a ball.
Soccer has never really been my sport. I played it for a year or so as a young lad until I discovered the joys of American-style football. I didn't really pay attention to it again until I ventured to Brazil as a missionary.
Shortly after my arrival in Sao Paulo, my companion and I were being driven back to my apartment by a recent-convert. "Elders," he said, "let's take a little detour. I want to show you something." I, of course, caught little of this due to my rudimentary language skills so I went along for the ride.
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
We then came to a main avenue in the city where a celebration was in full swing. I've been to my share of street parties, but this put them all to shame. Sao Paulo has two major soccer teams - the Sao Paulo Futebol Clube (SPFC) and the Corintios. The Corintios had just beaten SPFC for the city title - thus the celebration.
It was quite an experience, many photos were taken, and no, my Mission President never saw them.
Brazilian soccer fans can only be compared to Texas football fans in their dedication to their sport and their team.
Brazil's World Cup victories are commemorated with week long celebrations followed by years of treating the World Cup team with a reverence usually reserved for Deity. World Cup losses are mourned for years, sometimes decades. Rumor has it that a goalie from one World Cup team which lost to another South American rival is still reviled to this day.
There are high hopes for many nations in this year's World Cup chase. Sadly, my nation - short of a miracle akin to that of the 1980 Olympic Hockey Team - will soon be eliminated. France shows promise, as does the home country favorite of Germany.
Personally, I'd bet on Brazil if for no other reason than their players (as a unit) are the Michael Jordans of Soccer. Most of them grew up playing on the dirt fields of their neighborhoods and despite their incredible celebrity still play the game with a love known only to boys who would rather play soccer than eat.
Take some time over these coming days and see what all the commotion is about over on ESPN. You might just learn something about a game which really gathers world attention.
I am not a sports fan but I loved what you wrote. It cought my interrest enough that I will turn on ESPN and check it out. I would rather play a sport than watch it but I served a mission in Venezuela and know there is a world out there that we as Americans should get to know! ThanksPost a Comment