In the midst of World Cup Fever, I overheard (overread?) someone on Twitter say (in a somewhat condescending tone) that Americans don’t love soccer/football and/or the world cup so much as they love big events and spectacle.
S/he may have had a point. Because try finding football matches on TV at any other time. (Without buying a special package, anyway.) Not that I make a big effort, though that’s generally because I’m just not a sports fan At. All. I don’t follow any American sports regularly, unless my college team is doing well (and usually someone has to tell me).
But I love world sporting events, and do make an effort to follow the action. For me it’s not about the spectacle (I don’t watch the Superbowl and that’s MADE of equal parts spectacle and arrogance).
Here’s why I love watching the World Cup:
1) Football (and tennis) are in my blood. My grandfather played in Holland and South America. The World Cup was ALWAYS a big deal in the Boelhouwer house.
2) Football players are, overall, the hottest athletes of any team sport. Even some the referees are hella good looking.
3) American television pretty much forgets the rest of the world exists, unless something bad happens somewhere. Tennis matches and World Cup are the one time we really get anything approaching international flavor. (Except for BBC America, PBS and SyFy when it runs Doctor Who). I do not count the Olympics because the production values turn the coverage of those into a distinctly American thing. Big, bombastic, everything filtered through the lens of “Americans are idiots about other countries so we have to explain everything to them.”
So I really appreciate ESPNs coverage of the World Cup. Commentators of different nationalities. No stupid puff pieces for “flavor.” They treated their audience like they were there for the soccer/football.
4) Americans were not a shoe in for anything. (See above, re: Olympics.) We played well, made a good showing, but were on a level field. Also, we were not the most arrogant and worst behaved country. So that was awesome.
5) The Dutch went to the final. (The Telegraph (UK) reported some bad behavior by fans following their defeat. (All countries have jerks, I guess.) But on the whole, the country supported their team’s second pace finish. )
My brother and his family came over and we turned the day into an Event. We love our international heritage, our melting-pot traditions, our ties to Holland, the fact that we’re both very American (and Texan) but also not entirely so. (I love this country, but am fully aware of it’s flaws, one of which is a very insular way of thinking. Of course, I’m also the one who had to ask my agent, when I signed my first contract, if, under “Citizen of…” if I should filling “America” or “Texas.” So I get a double whammy of centrism.)
ANyway. Peter and I went all out for the day.
We hoisted the Dutch flag in front of my house:
And Pete and his spawn made a special cake:
(Wonder why the Dutch wear orange if their flag is red, white, and blue? The answer.)