World Cup: A Fan's Note

I admit it, I only watch soccer every four years during the FIFA World Cup. While I do appreciate the sport, I don't have the bandwidth to keep up with it, but every four years, it's no trouble at all.

Crowd at Heartland Brewery in Midtown.
I have stood six deep at a bar near Plaza Meyor to watch Real Madrid play Barรงa and I've taken a long lunch to watch the Rangers play the Celtics in a dark hall where the comedian Billy Connolly was in attendance. It's hard not to get swept up in the atmosphere of these rivalries.

Now that the USA has emerged as a global contender, it is wonderful to see this country get on board with the rest of the world, which is to say that everything stops when the game is on. For example, I was in a crowded restaurant near Bryant Park this past week when a voice nearby said, "shouldn't you be in Connecticut?" I turned to see a friend I haven't seen in quite some time due to our busy work schedules.

I do understand the complaints of loyal soccer fans who feel encumbered by all of the new faces crowding around the set, asking which team is the USA and shouting orders at the barkeep, but I gently counter with a bet that they haven't watched a giant slalom since Sochi when a NBC reporter badgered Bode Miller to tears after he won the bronze.

Hooligans at a bar in Queens.
What if we could harness the enthusiasm and shared sense of purpose an event such as the World Cup produces and carry it through each day? There's certainly worse ways to spend an afternoon. What if we could all turn to each other with a knowing smirk at the dramatics of some players when pleading their cases to the refs? What if when we lose, we still win as was the case with USA vs. Germany thanks to our foe turned friend, Ronaldo?

I like to imagine what the world might look like then. Would we still see pictures of men lined up in front of a firing squad and satellite photos of recently moved earth where a mass grave was dug? Wouldn't it be better if the only evidence of violence we saw was pink teeth marks on a player's shoulder while he pleads to the ref?

I, for one, am glad there's a game to look forward to this Tuesday!