Kidding, kidding. I am actually a big fan of the World Cup. It’s almost the only sporting event I can say that about. Professional league sports of all kinds bore me to tears, but the World Cup is different. And the fact that Glenn Beck is against it is kind of the icing on the cake.
Take this year’s event, and all its interesting angles. South Africa gets a chance to step onto the world stage. Desmond Tutu gets to wear adorable supporter gear. The world gets introduced to a new instrument. Sound nerds get to figure out how to cancel out the sound of said instrument. And then there are all the beautiful abs.
The North Korean team is another fascinating part of this years’ tournament. They have proven themselves to be worthy athletes, losing to number-one-in-the-world Brazil by a very respectable 2 to 1. They are, on average, a couple inches shorter than the South Koreans. Their fan section is small and uniform, and possibly consists of paid Chinese actors.
And then there’s the whole matter of whom to cheer for. After all, your country is only playing in a small number of the total games. Who else do you support, and why? We watched the US-England game in a beer garden, and I was surprised that the mostly-German crowd was so heavily cheering for the US. I watch games played by Germany or the US with great interest, but I find myself alternately wanting them to win or lose at any given moment. I used to be a loyal Italy fan, but I’ve found my allegiance to them flailing this year, too.
I love a good underdog, and found myself being happy for Slovenia in their tie with the US, the country with the highest population in the tournament. Slovenia, on the other hand, has a population smaller than that of Brooklyn. And going back to North Korea, I simultaneously want them to win and lose. I wish happiness and success for the individuals whom are being repressed by a crazy dictator, but I don’t want the crazy dictator to be able to derive any pleasure or glory from the success of his team. Maybe what I really want is for their team to do fairly well, and then for all of them to defect. Any chance of that?
Munich, like many cities around the world, is in party mode this month. Beer gardens and restaurants fill up with eager fans. Wearing face paint and clown wigs in public is suddenly OK. Companies let their employees leave early to watch Germany play. The beer* is flowing. Life is good, especially when the German team is winning, but even near-goals are celebrated with vigor.
As I type this, somewhere outside my window a vuvuzela is being played in time with the ringing church bells. I am happy that it’s just one.
Is the World Cup catching your interest this summer?
* And by beer, I mean the regular old Munich beer that always flows here. No one here seems to have heard of Hasseröder, the Official German World Cup Beer, except for me.