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Archive for the ‘thoughts’ Category

Leading up to the final of this World Cup, I am struggling with the fact that it is nearly over. For one month, we have had soccer at our beckon and call. I would wake up in the morning and there would be a group game from Cape Town. I would go to work and the day would pass by with a match in the morning from Durban, and one to push me through to the end of the day in Jo’Burg. Match trackers and ESPN 3 were my most watched and studied websites. I almost got sick of soccer. Almost.

This world cup has been…well it has happened. It’s too early to put some sort of historical adjective on it and by the laws of reference, this one will seem like the greatest World Cup in modern times, but we don’t really know how history will judge these matches. What will be the talking points looking back in four years, eight years or 24 years? Will the ball be scorned as it is now? Will this be seen as a turning point for refereeing, cleaning up the game because of poor calls and poor eyesight? Will it be seen merely by the winner and the loser; the first notch in the bedpost of a great European power and the let down of perennial favorites?

We don’t really know. Many people will judge this cup immediately. Many people will say yes to soccer because of this cup, like I did after the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Others will be turned off because of the officiating, the rules or the diving. All I know are my feelings which are muddled. I have struggled with this cup and its massiveness within the blogging world. Everything has exploded and been made into a grand gesture. Fruit trays everywhere, wine glasses clinking, waiters taking the appetizers before I’m finished, this cup has had all the arrangements of a 20’s era ball. Everyone is coming in to enjoy the scene and it’s great, but I’m overwhelmed much like I would be at such a ball.  Twitter breaks every time something big happens and all the while all I can do is sit back and observe. It’s all too much, too powerful.

Since this is my first World Cup to truly follow and be on the guest list of, I don’t know how to act. My favorite writer is writing everywhere, tweeting like the Cup depends on it, every single person has an opinion on goal line technology and Bill Clinton and Mick Jagger not only talk to each other, but they watch matches together in comfort. I mean hell; the Cup has even brought me out of my self induced blogging dungeon to write about my feelings and the Cup. My mind has been shell shocked for a month and I’m not sure whether to drink the wine, or throw it in Mick Jagger’s well creased face.

I go from being completely amazed by the most boring matches, to being unimpressed at some of the greatest plays of the tournament and I don’t know why or how. It’s like the part of my mind that knew soccer, the one that had a grasp on the game I love, was beaten up like a prize fighter past his prime. It knows what movements it is supposed to do and how everything is supposed to feel, but it can’t seem to keep up. It’s slow on the uptake and can’t block a jab to save its life.

That’s my mind during this World Cup. This Cup, and possibly all the rest for the duration of my life since this is my first, has been like this; a mind blowing experience where the world dances around the ring and I sway back and forth trying to hit it. I still don’t know how this South African adventure will be seen in years to come, but I do know that this one will be remembered by me for the sheer loopiness of what it has done to my soccer consciousness. An entire month seems like it has been one long soccer match and the end is coming in less than four days. Netherlands/Spain will be here before I know it, and then I hope I can get a grasp on this event, this Cup, this 20’s era ball. Maybe and only maybe, I will finally see that the fruit was organic and the wine was locally produced but right now it all looks canned, and I’m drinking Boone’s Farm.

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Get well cd9

Tragic news has struck today with the report that Charlie Davies and two others were in a serious single car accident at 3 AM yesterday morning. One passenger was killed immediately, while the other two were taken to the local hospital. I will let the professionals explain all the details. Goff, SBI

Davies will be out for 6 to 12 months at least and will require massive rehabilitation on his broken leg, and while worrisome, it means nothing in comparison to how generally lucky he was. Seeing the picture of the car makes the whole situation hit home even more clearly. However, I have seen accidents and professional athletes hurt before, but none have filled me with this deep sense of  sadness like this one has. It was like a classmate, or distant relative was hurt, not an athlete who I have only seen on television. I felt a pain that made me think of the good times I have had with Charlie not on the pitch, but as another young 20-something figuring out the world. I feel a kinship to him, like I know him personally.

I think this is due in large part to the access we get to our favorite stars these days as American soccer fans. The rising talent of US soccer is different from nations like England, and Spain. They grew up doing the same things we did. Playing on little league teams, going through the throes of high school and struggling in college. Now, they are out in a world they love and we love. They use twitter to tell us anything from their feelings after a crushing loss to the hottest new song they just heard.  They update their facebooks with pictures of parties and their normal (in comparison to WAGS) girlfriends showing us that while being stars, they are, in fact, young, immature and human, just like me. European starlets don’t seem the same in this sense. I don’t feel any connection to them beyond the fact that they play football, and I love football. Beyond that, I don’t know who they are or what they do with their spare time. The connection isn’t as strong because since they are stars, they lead such different lives from such an early age. Guys like Wayne Rooney, or Cesc Fabregas have spent their entire lives in academies designed to make them great players, but I have no connection to them. I did not spend time in those academies.

Of course there are other reasons why I wouldn’t feel a kinship to these players and do for American players; like their different nationality, my lack of exposure to them on the national team or many others, but my argument is that some of this American affection is in part due to the fact that players like Davies, Jozy Altidore, and Stuart Holden are easy to relate too, and through this, they are easy to love, cheer for, and worry about like a friend of the family.

Look across the blogosphere today and the rest of this week, and you will see a coming together, a unification of bloggers, intent not to talk about strategies and point totals, but of a common heartfelt sorrow for a young man who may never have the career he was destined to have before this fateful day.

My thoughts are with Charlie and his family, and I hope he has a speedy recovery from his injuries.

The USMNT faces off against Costa Rica Wednesday night. During the 9th minute, do something special for Charlie Davies, the number 9 for the US Men’s National Team. I will be in my home holding a candle and thinking positive thoughts.

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As a soccer fan, you go through a lot to follow your club, especially if your team isn’t in the same country or region as you are. It’s not easy to follow a club that isn’t in your neighborhood. The games aren’t on television, the newspaper doesn’t talk about the team, and your friends don’t care that your team just got hit with a transfer ban, or that the 19 year old phenom that your club has been placing all of its hopes and dreams for a good season on has decided to leave the club and go back to his home country of Bulgaria because he is homesick. They don’t care, nor do they understand.

They don’t understand why you get up at 4 AM to watch a two hour match in a country they can’t pronounce. They don’t understand how you can watch it on your computer where all of the players look the same due to the grainy eight-bit-like video you found on some website that is written entirely in Arabic or Japanese. They don’t understand that the result of this weekend’s matches determines next week’s mood either. The only people that do understand are other football fans.

Is mario playing for Barcelona?

Before the advent of the internet, an American football fan would go years without actually seeing another that followed the same team. Since I was not old enough to really be a fan at that point, I don’t know what they did to find out information about their beloved club, but I assume carrier pigeons and telegraphs were used daily.

carrier_pigeon

Now, fans from all around the world can gather on forums and blogs to argue the finer points of the 4-4-2 versus the 4-3-3 and etcetera. It really is a great time to be soccer fan as games are finally being shown on ESPN and other local outlets. The world is becoming smaller and more intimate and the best way to see that is through the explosion of popularity for the English Premier League in places like North America and Asia. The world’s game is finally becoming worldly and I am excited for the future. Where will we go from here?

UPDATE: So as I was traveling around the internet, I found some other articles on fandom by some much more intelligent people than me. So, forget everything I just wrote and go to these sites.

Footsmoke

The Run of Play

Futfanatico

Sport is a TV Show

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