Friday, July 04, 2014

As American as shopping on a national holiday.

It's the Fourth of July! To me, this usually means stuffing myself at a family BBQ and then going to bed early after flipping between A Capitol Fourth and the Boston Pops Fireworks show on tv. What I'm trying to say is, I don't usually go out for the holiday since it's just too much of a hassle. Especially in the DC area.

But this year I am not in DC for the Fourth--I'm in Los Angeles! So while I still over-ate at a family BBQ (well, really a block party), I also hit the beach for a fireworks display. But none of this means that I have forgotten my blogging duties. Oh, no. I haven't forgotten my wonderful minions, I mean readers. I've got new content for you even on the most American of holidays.

Instead of my usual "you should totally watch 1776 and Gettysburg on the Fourth of July" type of post, I figured I would cover something outside my usual oeuvre and talk about...


Yes, you read that right. I am going to talk about sports. The person who has never attended a professional sporting event, usually skips the Super Bowl, and only follows the performance of DC teams so I can impress dudes I meet at bars (true story), is going to write about the World Cup. But as usual, it's not so much about the sports as it is about my favorite topic. I am of course referring to me. And how the World Cup affects me.

Despite my unimpressive sporting resume, I found myself coming down with World Cup Fever this year. After all, it only comes around every four years (like the Olympics!) and the rest of the world is pretty much obsessed with it. Add to that some friends who also futball-obsessed (shout out to Tito and Matt!), and I figured I should find out what all the fuss is about. I watched three matches and each one was its own unique viewing experience.

Game 1: US vs. Ghana.

As is in my nature, I didn't want to go into a World Cup viewing experience a complete noob. So I did my homework. I read some online newspaper articles prior to viewing and learned a bit about the history between the US and Ghana in the World Cup. I also perused the wikipedia article on soccer so I would have some basic understanding of the rules. The first game was airing while I would be working, so I DVRed it and then watched it later in the evening (avoiding spoilers).

Perhaps watching my first game in my living room by myself wasn't the best way to get introduced, but I was able to follow what was going on. I was also pretty invested--especially since we scored right off the bat in the first two minutes! Sure, things didn't get really exciting until nearer the end of the game after that (...and I might have spent about an hour of game play wandering around my condo doing chores), but I got the gist. And I definitely appreciated the lack of commercial breaks and the non-stop clock. Why can't American football be played like that??

Game 2: Spain vs. Chile

For this game, I took to the bar! Unfortunately, it was a 3:00PM game so the bar was basically empty, but I had the benefit of my friend Tito's vast World Cup knowledge to answer my questions. Now like I said, I'm not a soccer expert, but even I knew that Spain was playing pretty poorly. They basically imploded, which was all the more surprising considering their past performance and the expectations on the team coming into this World Cup.

See, I told you I did my homework.

Watching the game with others was definitely more enjoyable, but since the bar wasn't that full and I hadn't hung out with the people I was watching the game with in a while, I spent more time chatting and catching up than actually watching. It was nice having someone around to answer all my questions though.

Game 3: US vs. Belgium

And for my last game (so far), I did everything the way you are supposed to. I watched the game in a packed bar surrounded by strangers who were really into it. I didn't know anyone around me (my friends were all running late), but the energy of the crowd was infectious. I found myself gasping, shouting, and reacting to every movement of the ball almost in spite of myself. The tension was palpable....until the overtime play when of course Belgium scored two goals and knocked us out. There was disappointment sure, but there was also pleasure in a game well played and pride for our team. Especially for Tim Howard, "the human wall."

Will I keep watching now that the US is out of the tournament? I'm not sure--probably the later games when the stakes get really high. And if I am around people who have the game on. I'm not sure you could call me a true soccer fan, but I definitely have a new found appreciation for the game and the athletes. And I think that's a step in the right direction!

Bonus pictures: some of the things that Tim Howard could save...

 The dinosaurs.


Luke's arm

 Ned Stark...actually nevermind. I don't think even Tim Howard could save Sean Bean from dying at the end of a show. 

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