A Funny Thing Happened…

A funny thing happened on the way to watching us get our butts kicked in the World Cup: I re-discovered how much I love the richness and diversity of the world.

It was no fun watching Carlos Reyna and teammates get pushed around, scored on, red-carded for minor infractions, etc., etc. for three straight games. Thats for sure. But, no matter how bad things got, I never got to a point where I hated the other guys. To the contrary, in a world where the U.S. has become the ten-thousand pound military and economic gorilla, it was kind-of a relief to watch Americans play a game with other peoples of the world on “even” terms.

Take the Czechs. The entire game, I couldn’t help but wonder: how much turmoil, in terms of economics and politics, have these guys seen in their lifetime? How much brutality and oppression has their coach witnessed? Times are surely better now than they were in the cold war, but even if they aren’t perfect – what a great thing it is for that country to stop everything and get behind their team as they faced off against (and defeated) the well-funded Americans.

The Italians? What zest. What flair! What egos! I can almost hear one of their players saying it now: “I am too PASSIONATE to looove JUST ONE WOMAN! I must love…MANY WOMEN! (And the WOMEN, they love ME, too!)”. Soccer – with its flash and heroic acrobatics – is the perfect sport for the men in that culture. And – truth be told – I kind of like that attitude on the pitch.

Finally, there was Ghana. Relative newcomers to the World Cup, I’m told. They seemed so young, innocent, and eager – underdogs that you can’t help but like. They were perfect sports, shaking hands, helping people up who had fallen on the pitch. Smiling and celebrating every goal – joyfully and seemingly without guile for their opponent. What was not to love about that team?

So – with the U.S. out of the picture – who has the best shot to win? My money is on a Brazilian repeat. Gotta love those guys, too.

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