It’s been a while, forgive me. Though I feel a surge coming on, as I am once again overwhelmed by my music. I have been on a downloading binge, and that means I need to stop, breathe and take the time to smell the music… or at least really listen to all my new acquisitions and blog about them. Stay thirsty… I mean, stay tuned, my friends.
Until then, let us talk about soccer… futbol… the World Cup.
I’ll admit it… every four years I have this amazing, whirlwind affair. I become very acquainted with a wonderful group of people from all over the world, I fall deeply in love… and no, it does not involve Adriana Lima, as featured in those incessant Kia ads, which I am sure many a man love… and many a woman… well… don’t. There are a few of them, but here is one for your watching enjoyment.
The fact is, I never really played soccer, unless you count the one or two years I was on the Bobcats when I was seven or eight… and as my parents like to tell it, I spent most of the time with my eyes OFF the field and my hands ON my CUP. Hey, back in those days the cups were HUGE! Easy, I said the cups. They were hard and uncomfortable and chaffed… horribly. So yeah, I needed to adjust it whenever I could. I played fullback… defense… and rarely had to do much because the other kids around me, rightfully so, would not let me handle the ball much. I remember guys like Carl and Scott being quite good at the sport, but it was not very big then. It’s amazing to see how popular it has become, yet we still lag behind the rest of the globe. Though if this World Cup is any indication, we are getting there. Soccer fever is spreading.
There is an old British quote which has always stuck with me, and I believe was reiterated in the film Invictus… though it’s origin and exact wording seems to be murky. “Soccer is a gentleman’s sport played by thugs, and rugby is a thugs sport played by gentlemen.” I have seen it with “game” instead of sport and “ruffians” and “Hooligans” as well, but you get the idea. Today and the biting incident of Uruguay’s Luis Suarez (his third apparent one, no less) makes this seem like a very accurate statement. Though I refuse to let delinquents like him dismantle my new-found love… or should I say my newly, once again, resurrected love.
Every four years I fall… hard. I swear I am going to follow futbol… on the world-wide level and in the Premiere League. Maybe even go see the Galaxy play… You know, really get into it. Because, of course, I need more sports to break my heart and plant me in front of a television or inside a bar. I can fit it in. I mean sure, there is a lot of overlap between my passions for College Football and hockey, but I can do it. I can do it… I can…
I like the soccer jerseys, and yes I have my share… Italy, France, Crystal Palace, Israel… Thank you friends, who gave me all of them. I am eyeing the away one from The Netherlands and of course, something from the USA, by the way. Hint, hint, nudge, nudge, wink, wink. And yes, okay… a Scottish jersey would be lovely.
But, actually, I do have to say I HATE the fact that the club jerseys have the great team logo as tiny as can be, and the sponsor be basically the main and whole, eye-catching, eye-sore visual. Chelsea, for example. I love the colors, I love the logo, BUT, I don’t feel like paying a ton of money to advertise for Samsung. Get rid of the sponsor’s name and I am there, committed, 100%!!!
Obviously I support Team USA, and hell yes I believe. My great-grandfather was born in Holland, and I know many folks from there, so that puts The Netherlands at my number two spot. Another trunk of my family tree is in England… and I have friends from France and Italy… and I do adore visiting both of those places, though France has some major issues that need attending to… Not good.
So there it is. Soccer. I can do this… I can be deeply in love and make it last… I can… I can! Sigh…
Then four long years go by… Olympics aside… And I find myself rushing to learn or re-learn players’ names, histories, etc. I love hearing about The Pitch and Set Pieces and wonder if they are talking about the sport or screenwriting and filmmaking. I don’t think I have ever heard the word “brilliant” used so much either! But then I sit down and watch, and I have to say that for this Cup, I am watching a lot more than I ever have… and I start to see it.
Without being crass, there is a lot of foreplay… a rhythm to the game. You start slow, feel things out, see where you can get into open space. You move, glide along the field, caress the ball, set things up, and then make a mad passionate run. You can use your head and your feet, but not your hands, well, unless you are the Keeper. And yes, I have always had a thing for the creative, eye-popping, different color, sometimes long-sleeve goalie jerseys, too. I know, I know, I am like a little kid.
But maybe… maybe this year will be different. I am more aware, more in tune and more attuned to how things are playing out and developing. It’s a dance and a song and a piece of theatre. There is great drama and celebration… joy and heartbreak. Sometimes playing to a draw is a major accomplishment, though the complexity of the points and goal differentials in the first round can be a bit boggling. But the music, the world music, the world stage…
There are wonderful sounds and chants from the stands. What? Like Ole, Ole, Ole is not plastered into your ears and brains???
Soccer fans are passionate, sometimes too much so, but they are always right there, way into it. I used to think the game was boring, but 90 minutes plus stoppage time seems to fly by. These are amazing athletes, who travel miles up and down the field. The condition and shape they are in is staggering… and yes, when they remove their shirts, it is clear why they all have supermodel, rock star spouses. The salaries and deals and under the table negotiations are equally mind-blowing… buying people’s contracts out, moving players from club to club, or country to country is like a crazy puzzle.
So call it soccer or futbol or whatever, I actually feel like it is finally clicking this time… that this is the one to last. I guess check back in a few months and see where I am at, but I feel good. And I believe… I believe that… I believe that we… I believe that we can win. I believe that we can win!!!
USA! USA! And Hup, Hup Holland!