So why is this post in a music blog? Because there is a music in sports… on the field and most definitely in the stands. There is a music in a chant, in a national anthem, and yes, there is even music in those annoying vuvuzelas, though it may be limited to a mere few seconds… then it becomes torturous.
Soccer In Jersey
Every four years I am captivated by the World Cup and fall deeply in love with soccer. And every four years, once the winner is crowned, I drift away from the sport, and fall back into my top three… the NHL (Go Rags!), College Football (Go Cats!) and Baseball (Go Yankees and Cubbies).
My nieces love and play soccer, but my daughter never did, so there is that. I am not anything close to an athlete, but I played soccer for a short while, and according to my parents, spent most of the time adjusting my cup and looking anywhere and everywhere OTHER than the field. Yes, I called it a field and not the pitch. (I could not find a photo in my soccer uni (kit) so here is a collectible playing card of me and my brother Dan as total jock studs!)
I enjoyed going to Cosmos games and watching Pele and Franz Beckenbauer and Shep Messing, but for whatever reason it never stuck. Then again, neither did the Cosmos. Though I do have a great story about Mick Jagger helping me get Pele’s autograph!
Friends have advised that I pick a Premiere League team and follow them as the best way to learn about and fully immerse myself in the sport. I never did… until now. After doing a number of surveys and questionnaires online… Yes, that is a thing to try to match your personality to a team… my friend Eric pushed me towards Tottenham.
The surveys wanted me to go with Arsenal or Everton. I was drawn to Liverpool for the Beatles… Chelsea for the logo, colors and neighborhood… Yeah, I know… and Newcastle for the beer. I still like Chelsea, but after reading about Tottenham, that seemed like my match. So next season, you’ll know where to find me! Go Spurs! And yes, it is not lost on me that their 3rd jersey is purple!!!
Plus, their motto is killer…
“TO DARE IS TO DO.”
Apologies to my friend Steve, who did push me to Crystal Palace a while ago, and even bought me a jersey. They still will hold a place for me… and I do understand your pain.
Of course, the Captain of Team England is Harry Kane, a star Spur… so my fate seems to be sealed.
Soccer In The World
There are three levels to any World Cup:
The players and teams on the pitch.
The fans in the stands.
The fans worldwide who make up a massive TV audience.
I suppose you could combine the last two, but clearly there is something specific to travelling across the globe to support your team… and perhaps more importantly, your country. Being together in a bar, or even outside a stadium is great, but just look at the passion and energy inside! Wow!!!
It’s a bit ironic that the US is not playing in the World Cup. It gives a sporting and visual definition to the world the current administration seems to be creating… a world with the US separate from the rest of the nations. This is a scary and sad thing to see and feel. Ultimately, people are people. They have a deep love for family and friends, want nothing more than a good life, and for most, they have a strong and passionate love of country.
The key is to keep politics out of it. The last Olympics were a bit tainted with some political gamesmanship… or hijacking. And Argentina, refusing to play a warm-up friendly in Israel, allowed a misguided political decision to affect some fans, including myself, who then wanted to see them and Messi ousted ASAP. It’s not always easy, but maintaining the purity of the sport and the fierce dominance of competition is essential.
Take A Stand In The Stands
This is why what is happening in the stands can be just as powerful as what is happening on the pitch. The coverage fills our screens with the crazy outfits, the full body paint, the families and lovers and impassioned fans… The tears of joy, the celebrations, the chants, the singing of a national anthem… and of course, the utter heartbreak. These are such powerful images to see and feel. We are, after all, all human beings.
There are so many amazing things to bring people together, and sports are one of them. While some rivalries can get heated and even violent, for the most part sportsmanship and friendly rivalries win out, and that is a wonderful thing to see. I am hoping the soccer thuggery of yesteryear is gone, as I embark on this new sports love, but we’ll see.
I am not sure who wrote it, but someone said that the US not being in this World Cup was actually a mixed blessing, as it forces US soccer fans to pay more attention to other teams and other countries. And we all know how the US coverage of the Olympics usually goes. While it makes sense to highlight US athletes, it loses quite a bit of the International flavor. Yes, if there is a great story they will follow it, no matter which country it stems from, but for the most part, the coverage is myopic.
Picking a favorite to follow makes the World Cup more fun to watch… Just like Fantasy Sports forces you to follow players and teams you might not ordinarily care about… so I am Team England, with France a close second. I also like Sweden, Mexico and Croatia. Either way, this has been a great event so far, and I think the passion for the sport will stick this time. I understand the terms more, see plays developing and am taking tremendous pleasure in watching from start to finish.
Speaking of passion… I would add a fourth element into the mix, that of the broadcasters, who guide us through each match with knowledge and pleasure. This especially goes for Jorge Perez-Navarro! His iconic “Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooal” is filled with sheer joy and bliss, astounding energy and a powerful life force that is infectious.The World Cup is the rare opportunity for the world to truly come together. I beg you to watch, be an active participant, and realize that it IS a small world after all. While that music might drive you mad after a few minutes, too… find the joy… find the pleasure… find your bliss in the wide, wide world of sports. We need to connect now more than ever, and the World Cup may be the remedy we need. Let’s just get the USA back in the picture, back on the World Stage… and back to the remarkable things she represents… Life, Liberty and the Pursuit Of Happiness… for One… and for All! Go Team!