What the Rest of the World Calls It

[ I’m calling it international football here as a concession to my adopted, American homeland, which I now believe is populated with well-meaning and inventive but occasionally confused people. See: Columbus (Indians), and the thing called football (which is not played with your feet). 

And I’ll point out here that I say this with all affection because even if I don’t understand it, it doesn’t mean it’s not great. ]

Every now and then my deeply non-competitive, supremely lazy nature will sit up and take notice of some international sporting event. I’ve realized that I like my sports the way I like my board games: straightforward rules, with emerging complexity. So I find it easy to appreciate things like tennis and (i)football, the former a little more because there’s only two people to focus on at any given time. 

I honestly didn’t expect the World Cup thing to hit me as much as it has, though. Part of it’s probably the fact that most of my team is work is into it to varying degrees, so someone hooks up a laptop onto our massive TV screens when they get a chance. From what I can tell, this year’s been the Year of the Underdog. Spain’s exit from the Cup is apparently a bit like Newton dropping out of the running for Smartest Guy Alive. 

For all that I know about two people in the entire Cup — okay, maybe three — I’ve watched several matches and enjoyed them all, regardless of how exciting they were. Goal attempts! Footwork! Drama queens clutching their elbows! 

I always assumed people watching sports mainly out of some sense of unity, which is what fills the bleachers and sidelines and what have you. Unfortunately I don’t have any of those alliances, but I think I’m ok with watching just for the fun of it. 

One of the best parts of watching the Cup with a team as international as mine is that I get to cheer indiscriminately for whichever team we happen to have a connection with. Hey look — it worked with Croatia! 

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