I really tried to avoid catching World Cup Fever. My feelings for European style football are best described as ambivalent. Years ago as a young boy I attended a few “professional” soccer games locally. The team, the Jacksonville Tea-Men of the NASL, wasn’t very good and while I enjoyed the experience I never really got into the sport.
Yesterday a co-worker asked me about watching The World Cup. She was clearly excited about the tournament. I was less than enthusiastic about the whole affair and she engaged me in a discussion about what I didn’t like about the sport. There wasn’t really anything specific except that it tends to be a very defensive game with low scores. We talked about that in comparison with American Football which I am generally very passionate about and other American sports like basketball and baseball which I’m not as excited about. My reasons sounded hollow even to me. The conversation was friendly and non confrontational, but it made me reexamine my feelings about The World Cup.
So this morning I tuned in to watch a couple of matches. the second match turned out to be Italy, the defending World Cup champions, vs. lowly New Zealand. When the hugely favored Italian team found itself behind early I found my feelings for the game shifting. The score ended up a 1-1 tie, but far from feeling let down I was exhilarated because I understood how big achieving a draw against Italy was to the New Zealand team.
I spent the rest of the morning reading up on the rules of the game and the mechanics of the tournament. I am far from a FIFA football expert and the game is in no danger of replacing NFL football in my life, but I have a new appreciation of this game and understand some of the excitement my co-worker was feeling yesterday.
In my own small way I have just a tiny case of World Cup Fever.
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