Colin's Comment

Monday, July 10, 2006

World Cup
Well, it’s over for another four years, the World Cup of football. Or soccer if you prefer. Now, I’m not a sporty guy, when I was a kid I played soccer (awarded for “Most Improved player“, my team was so unstoppable at the end of our first season the other coaches had a meeting and broke up our team), later I curled (as part of my psychological therapy) and I was in the Misspent Youth Underground Bowling League for several seasons. I’ve tried to watch Canadian football but I just go to sleep. When I had cable I watched pro wrestling (but that’s not so much a sport as theatre of the absurd for the masses) soccer and rugby. For a long time I refused to watch any sports. You see, when we were young my brother’s entire state of mental health depended on the success of his sports teams. If they lost he was furious, if they won they hadn’t won by enough and his rage would affect everyone in the house. Turned me off sports for years. He’s better now. So I don’t watch hockey’ (I’m a bad Canadian) the Olympics, tennis, figure skating, show jumping or much of anything. Then there’s the World Cup.

The World Cup is awesome. I mean it’s awesome, huge. There’s more teams competing for a spot in the in the World Cup then in the Olympics, more teams then there are countries on the planet. The only places that soccer isn’t huge is Canada, the United States and Antarctica. And I wonder if things are changing in Canada. All along Broadway in my part of town (not an ethnic enclave like Commercial Drive with it’s Italians and Portuguese) in coffee bars, cafes and pool halls people assembled to watch the games. I waited until the there were eight teams left before I started going to “Our Town” café to watch the games, I knew I could only afford to eat out so much (I felt obliged to spend money for the privilege of watching the games). I soon started to recognise the same people coming in to see the games and quickly acquired a group of “soccer buddies“ to swap opinions with, an Iranian and friends I never knew cared about soccer. The games attracted a diverse crowd of Canadians with roots in Asia, Europe, Africa and the America’s, perhaps even an Australian or two. Women as much as men, everyone was respectful, good natured and cheered on the players no matter what team they were supporting. Except one, by appearance and accent a man of middle-eastern roots who was cheering for Portugal against England. After the game on the sidewalk outside he was threatening to punch out an English fan (Anglo-Canadian, like all the England fans like me I saw) who was holding on to a baby at the time. Apparently Mr. Angry-person-of-middle-eastern-appearance considered England’s defeat to be divine retribution for Tony Blair’s war on Iraq. Sports as war by other means. Fortunately he was confronted and stormed off before I would’ve bravely attacked him from behind if he had carried out his threat to attack a man holding a baby. It’s a baby for Christ sakes!

Today was the final and it was packed, I arrived an hour early to get a good seat. I was supporting France, I have family there, but you can’t say the Italians didn’t deserve the win. But now the Italians will be insufferable for months! It was jut amazing to me to be a part of something that people across the world were enthralled by, a truly global event. A friend of mine once told me that that is why I really follow the world cup, not because of the sport but a fascination with the world culture that surrounds it. Perhaps it’s true, but the games were exciting, (not enough goals and too much diving perhaps) more so watching it with a group of strangers united by a sports event so awesome it holds the world in it’s grip. The beautiful game…
Pity about Zidane losing it at the end…


At 11:46 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, Zidane. You could see it didn't hit him until he was almost off the field: nutting that guy in the chest just undid his entire life and career. I could empathize, since there've been times I've put the torch to a bridge or two. You gotta admire a guy who can make such a flamboyant self-destructive gesture.


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