It’s not in our DNA…

13 Jul

Dumbo-Under Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn, the only public large screen in New York

After a month of enchanted football The World Cup came to an end. It proved right the Englishmen Gary Lineker who once defined football as a game where 22 people run after a ball for 90 minutes and in the end Germany wins. It was not so easy as expected as Argentina made for sure the best game of the World Cup and could have easily won if they just found the goal.

But beside everything else the World Cup is always a celebration where everybody forgets their differences and come to watch and play the game. The fabric of Football is passion and is living through it even when the Gods are defeated at an astronomical score in their Mount Olympus. The game would live on no matter that this year would remain stained forever in the hearts of many Brazilians.

Many of my American friends confessed during a month of this highly unusual sport for them that “they don’t get it”. I was told that it is not in their DNA, that the game is too sluggish, few goals, nothing happens, too much drama, absurd refereeing, “how can you qualify when you lose”, the bottom line plain boring. It is hard to get it when you never played it. It is the same for us born in Europe to fully appreciate baseball or American football. By the way who did invent the word soccer and associated the word football to its American version that is played …with the hands!! Hello!!??

It is hard for many of my American born friends to get it as long as soccer in America is a sort of Cinderella of sports. Played by kids in schools, it is perceived as totally not-cool. The good sportsmen would always go to the money-making sports and in colleges playing American football would portray a team spirit so coveted by the large corporations.

For us coming from Europe or elsewhere we still cannot get over the fact that the baseball and American football games are stopped for commercial breaks on TV, one of the many intrusions corporations have here in people’s life. And most of the fans suck on it without even debating or giving it a second thought. Inside the stadiums people are not glued to the action like in any soccer match around the world but shuffle the kids, order food, drink beers and chat with their friends while the game is going. And here come the “seasons”. You switch from one sport to another with some faint interest but insignificant passion in a sort of diversion that would give you just enough talking points around the water cooler. But it may not be in our DNA, also.

In the rest of the world when a major soccer game happens the world literally stops. Everybody stops anything they do and watch the game irrelevant of its quality or merits. Even in Germany…. The post game discussions can last not hours but decades like it would last for the incredible Brazilian defeat. Even the nephews and nieces of the Brazilians that lived the event will know about it. In detail…Besides, soccer gives anybody a sense of nationhood that neither baseball nor American football can offer to Americans simply because so few others in the world play them!! The best World Series, funny name, is played between Queens and the Bronx!!! Are you kidding me?!!!


Dumbo-Under Manhattan Bridge, the only public large screen in New York

When Jurgen Klinsmann, the US National Team soccer coach twitted his smart letter that basically encouraged people to play hooky, get out to watch the game against Germany and sustain the American National Team, I loved it because it reflected perfectly the spirit of the rest of the world. A game like this, in any country of the world would be like a religious moment and no boring meeting, emergent delivery or stupid boss would stop people to watch it. In the US the main religion of the country is J-O-B and this is maybe another reason why soccer cannot be taken easily. Because soccer is L-I-F-E and in order to live your life you must from time to time deceive your adopted American religion: get out, watch it and live it.

And one more thing about “LA PASION”; I watched all the games of the World Cup on the Spanish channel, Univision. I speak some Spanish but for sure I cannot understand most of the fast paced commentaries however I can feel it and immerse in it without the words. When you watch ESPN you feel that you watch a different game than the one from the Spanish channel. The more recently employed British commentators are miles better than the American ones used in the first broadcast of the World Cups but are still dry and lifeless. The American annalists that sometimes second them in the commentaries are talking like in a corporate meeting. They are so far from, let’s say, Alexi Lalas’ commentaries that are pertinent and at the point. You can tell that he PLAYED the game and not only talked about it. Anyway, how about let’s be less British and add a little “CORAZON”?

Life is worth living and for this you need football, I mean soccer.

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Posted by on July 13, 2014 in Blog, USA


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