Tuesday, June 13, 2006

for the record

World Cup soccer is in full swing in nextdoor Germany, and the world (minus most people in the USA) is reeling over it. On a worldwide scale, this month-long soccer tournament is the biggest single sporting event in the world---and that includes the Olympics. And the world does take its soccer---excuse me, football---seriously.

For the last World Cup (2002) I lucked out, studying abroad that very month in Spain. The baseball-loving American that I am, I probably only would have heard about this big affair later, maybe as a short blurb on the news had I been stateside. But our language school was situated on the third floor of a cantina consistently packed with Brazilians. We were interrupted by every shot on goal. Furthermore, when the Spanish national team was eliminated in the quarterfinals, vitriol filled the Spanish airwaves to a degreen I've seldom heard, even for sports. The questionable call that robbed Spain of its would-have-been winning goal was aired as the headline story on national news broadcasts every night for two weeks. No kidding.

And let me tell you: the Czechs take the Cup no less seriously. After all, FIFA, the leading soccer federation that hosts the Cup, ranks the Czech team 2nd in the world, right behind perennial maestros Brazil. We'll see how it plays out.

Yesterday the United States played the Czech Republic in each team's first game, and for the record, in spite of my current residence and the contagious nationalism of my friends and colleagues, and in spite of my own country's general apathy towards the sport, and in spite of the fact that an American win would have made the next day inconvenient if not in danger, I could not bring myself to cheer against my home country. From now on I will cheer on the Czechs and hope that my Americans can recover from the loss and scrape together the two difficult wins we'll probably need in order to advance.

But for the record: this American cheered for America.


At 14/6/06 02:22, Blogger James said...

For the record: you make me proud.

At 22/6/06 00:18, Anonymous peta said...

Dear Mr. Joel,
the only thing that apologizes you for not rooting for Czech is that Mike's top ten was published after the match.
Let me just warn you that most of the points (in fact, all of them) are very true, especially the ones about students not talking to the teachers who root for America and the big men in the pub...

anyway, I forgive you because I see you've repented and became a Czech fan. Don't forget - tomorrow!!

At 29/6/06 01:16, Blogger mharv said...

For the record: We are again at odds. But I hope we can still be friends.


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