Yesterday I walked into the office and asked Rashid, “How are you going to watch the World Cup on Internet?” He said, “I was just going to ask you the same thing.” He picked up a child’s ball ( we’re in refugee resettlement and education and the office is full of clothes, junk, and weird donated food*) and we played catch and even headed the ball a couple of times.
I haven’t followed football all that long but still remember the tragedy of Spain’s loss to South Korea years ago with its dubious refereeing. These football matches can be discussed for years and any football fan can describe in detail their team’s wins over decades.
Four years ago there was Spain’s glorious win and the sound of vuvuzelas in the stadiums, and let’s not forget Paul the octopus who correctly predicted the winners. The Spanish chef, Jose Andres, in honor of Paul, had a moratorium on serving octopus in his restaurant. Football is filled with such stories. For me, they capture an innocence not seen in professional US sports.
Of course, soccer players earn huge salaries but seem more like regular guys. Perhaps because they aren’t massive like American football players or the giants in basketball. They are closer to us. After all, you just need a ball to play and you’re good to go.
I’m not much of a sports fan ordinarily but the World Cup even brings a touch of the citizen of the world to it. As an NPR reporter commented, everyone in the world is watching except for the US and Antartica.
*If you donate food to any charitable institution, make sure it’s something a person might want to eat. No spam, no endless cans of candied yams or Thanksgiving leftovers.