Sunday, July 13, 2014

World Cup Final

I watched nearly all of the 120 minute final today between Germany and Argentina.

(An aside.  Having just completed a book in part about the Nazis I found myself cheering for Argentina.  Of course, had I watched this contest after reading Jacobo Timerman's Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number who knows who I have rooted for.  That book--thrust at me thirty years ago by someone I no longer remember--is about how Timerman, an imprisoned Argentinian journalist, found that the most derisive and caustic comments from his Argentinian jailers were not about his politics but about his ethnicity. The jailers saved their greatest vitriol for when they screamed one word at him: "Jew".  If a history of humanitarianism is a criterion for my rooting choice for the world cup, it will be tough to identify a country to shout for.)

Egalitarianism aside for just this one moment, my feelings about the world cup are still as they have been.  Unless I am pulling for my home team, I find the game not especially exciting.

In 120 minutes today, there were very few real chances for either team to score.  I had to run an errand for the first twenty minutes of the second half. When I returned the score was still 0-0 and I had the feeling that I had not missed a single thing in the time away.

I see post game images of German fans in the stands who are exuberant, and Argentinians who are tearing.  I am off to Rio tomorrow for a sports conference. I imagine I may see vestiges of German tourists' partying in the streets of the city.  The conference is about sport and society and is populated by faculty from all over the globe. I look forward to listening to conversations about the game to see if the same type of post game discussion that takes place after the Superbowl can be overheard at the conference.  I can't read a word of Portuguese but I will attempt to see if the newspapers write about the game in the same way the Boston Globe might write about the World Series in the days after the event. Since Brazil lost ignominiously in the semi final game (7-1), I wonder if the conversation on the street will be about the collapse.

I imagine what I will find in Rio is that there will be robust discussion about the competition.  And maybe I will catch the bug in a way that I sort of did when the US played Belgium in the round of 16. I don't think I will.  Even the final today seemed to be a snoozer to me.

And yet it is important to point out that at the same time the world cup final was being played, the Red Sox were playing the Astros.  When I flipped the channel at world cup half time, the baseball game was 8-0 for the Sox. Can anything be more of a snoozer than a baseball game in the sixth inning with one team up by over a half dozen runs?

It seems to me that the variable in terms of fan zealotry may not be the game, but the culture within which one is immersed.   Raised and weaned on futbol, you become a zealot come world cup time.  Probably accounts for prevailing attitudes about ethnicity, race, and religion as well.  Raised, weaned, and immersed in a culture of hate, you become a bigot when the wind blows a certain way.

No comments:

Post a Comment