Friday, June 27, 2014

The Fuss

I think I get the fuss now.  I don't quite have my arms around it completely, but I am getting there.

Yesterday at around noon I tried to get the US-Germany match on my computer.  Had it for a spell, but then it froze so I walked with purpose across the campus to a place where I sensed the game would be on a screen or two.

We have a Starbucks on campus.  Good one too.  It is a large rectangle, say about 100 feet long and 40 feet wide.  The room is actually a multipurpose facility. When Starbucks closes, there is a stage and students can entertain or be entertained by various bands and performers.  In the room there are about five or six television sets, typically airing an ESPN broadcast of some sort.

I figured that the managers would be showing the World Cup match on at least a couple of the screens. I arrived with about twenty minutes gone in the first half and the place was jammed.  Every tv in the joint had the game on.  So many were there watching (and apparently had been anticipated) that the wait staff had placed several rows of seats theatre style in front of the largest screen which seemed to have been inserted just for the occasion.  The crowd was so large that a staff person was rhythmically telling a group to get away from the door, barking periodically like the security folks in airports who tell you to remove your shoes and jacket and dispose fluids.

There was a woman from Germany standing behind me and the squeal she let out when her team scored in the second half was a top tier yell.  (The game, as most readers know, was played in Brazil as are all the games in this World Cup.  The most clever line I read yesterday on a facebook post was something like, "Wouldn't it make sense for Germany to play the United States in France?")

The size and the cheers of the fans reflected the wild enthusiasm for the games.  As I watched the contest I recognized more than I had previously how this game could be so engaging and exciting. Germany, in particular, was passing the ball beautifully and defending aggressively.   Soccer or futball has so few scores, that the game is essentially sudden death right from the start.   So any progress toward the goal becomes exciting.  The net is large so any shot has the potential of getting by the goal tender. Yet very few shots get to be taken.

This game was riveting in the second half after the US went down 1-0. In a game that was being played concurrently, Ghana had tied Portugal.  If Ghana scored a goal to go ahead in its game, the US--due to an arcane tie breaking rule--would have been eliminated--unless- the U.S. was able to tie its game.  So, the importance of the outcomes of both games played at the same time ratcheted up the importance of almost every pass and touch.

I think if I lived in a country where soccer was the sport, it might become as exciting to me, as it is to the crazies in Brazil who are screaming like maniacs for their team and country.

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