I’m enjoying the World Cup so far.
I don’t get as much of a chance to see it this time around as I did last time, when it was in Brazil. Brazil is more or less in the same time zone as I am, which means that the games were played at a time when I wasn’t working or sound asleep (which two things are not simultaneous, at least not since I graduated from college). This whole “working for a living” thing really does cut into my relaxation time, you know? Russia covers eleven time zones and not a single one of them is convenient for a spectator in the American midwest, but so it goes.
I get to see some of the games live on weekends or when I don’t go in to work until later in the day, and sometimes if I think I’ll have time in the evenings I’ll tape them. This has its drawbacks, though. I was at a social gathering this past weekend when the tournament came up in conversation. “Don’t tell me who won that game!” I said. “I’ve got it recorded for later!” And then somebody else who didn’t hear me say that wandered by and said, “Did you see that game! That team won! It was fantastic! There was THIS play and THAT play and where are you going, Dave?”
Please do not presume to criticize me for watching a sporting event originating from Russia. Yes, I know that Russia is a corrupt and venal place that won a war against the US in 2016 that we didn’t even know we were fighting, but have you checked out our own government lately? I’m just not sure that making moral judgments based on politics is something we Americans should be doing right now.
Also, I grew up in the Cold War. I’m used to watching games that take place in countries that are actively trying to kill me. This is not new. We called that detente back in the day, and we walked uphill against the wind to see them on a black and white television with rabbit ears on top and a grainy picture on the screen and we liked it.
I think I can handle it.
Plus the American network broadcasting these games (not sure which one – I just scroll through the guide until I hit paydirt) has pretty much ignored the setting, which means I can just focus on the games and be happy. Three cheers for you, network, whoever you are.
And I am happy, when I get the chance to watch. Most of the games have been interesting (with the singular exception of Spain v Russia, which was a clinical exercise in wasted possession and mind-numbing delaying tactics by the Spaniards), and there have been a number of unexpected results to make things fun. I knew it was going to be a good tournament when Mexico defeated Germany.
A lot of the students I see on Home Campus have family roots in Mexico, so there was much celebration around here. It was a lot sadder when they lost to Brazil, but hey – only one team gets to win its final game in this, so you might as well enjoy the ride while it lasts.
With Mexico out, that means three of the four teams I’ve been cheering for are still alive. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they are all in the same group* so a) they will have to play each other which means at least one will have to lose each time, and b) there is no chance that I will have two teams to cheer for in the final. England and Sweden play each other next, and Belgium will play Brazil. I have friends in England, Sweden, and Belgium, so those are my choices. Only one of those countries can make it to the final, though, but I hope whichever one does wins it all. The other side of the bracket has four teams that I don’t really feel much about one way or the other.
Go my teams! Beat the other teams!
*Correction, courtesy of my friend Roeland: Belgium is in a different group from England and Sweden, so there is in fact a chance that I could see a final between two teams I'm cheering for. This is good news!