Tuesday, June 29, 2010

World Cup 2010: An Amateur Analysis.

About me.
I am a self-proclaimed footy-lite enthusiast. By this I mean…I like/love ‘soccer.’

Here’s the deal: soccer has always been my favorite sport. As a kid, I spent more time playing soccer than I did doing any other recreational activity. Also, it’s the only sport (aside from tae kwon do) that I collected a handful of trophies/medals/really cool plaques, all of which commended my skills. *Disclaimer: Perhaps my most notable soccer award came in 8th grade. I was given a plaque which showcased (in gold) the words: MOST IMPROVED.

Undermined, etymologically.

Before I proceed with my analysis, I’d like to get something straight. I’m tired of using the word soccer. In fact, I think it’s about time Americans give it up already and call the sport by its INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED and AGREED UPON name. I will discuss the World Cup in this post, so I request your permission to forego my American roots and refer to the sport as football. Done and done.

Variety is the spice of life.
I love World Cup Culture. From the hardcore (rioters, screamers and criers) to the mediocre (“who does the guy in red play for?”), each kind of fan is welcomed at my spectator lounge. (However, if you’re only there to ogle Ronaldo, maybe you should sit the next few out…at home.)

I’ve been trying trying to catch as many of the World Cup games as possible. FIFA fever is rampant throughout the city, and I’m getting a kick (pun intended) out of frequenting local hotspots for game-glimpses. During the games, I am adamant in my support for non-violent smack-talking. I think said means of expression is not only important, but necessary to prevent an emotional breakdown.

With teams coming from all over the world, diverse viewing experiences abound for all kinds football enthusiasts. A trip to the local Argentine café for the Argentina vs. Mexico game, for example, is quite the spectacle. Watching the USA vs. Ghana match in an all-American barbeque joint, however, is an entirely different affair (more on this later). NYC has proven itself to be a hotspot for every match imaginable, thanks to the innumerable tourists, locals, and international crowds..

Let the Good Times Roll.

Germany is a great team to watch. Not only are they impressive on the field but, from a spectators’ point of view, the entertainment value is doubled when the game is watched in a 100% certified Deutschland arena. Such an arena includes the following: an owned and operated German beer garden, complete with a $5 bratwurst lunch special and your choice of two dozen aromatic, German beers…on tap. Of course, handling this situation appropriately requires sound judgment on the part of spectator. My personal code of conduct is as follows: so long as I can pronounce Schweinsteiger’s name correctly, I’m allowed another Pilsner.

I wouldn’t be American if I merely paid tribute to the Germans, though. Before we were ousted after our loss on Saturday, I was (is/am) a proud supporter of the good ol’ Team USA. I’ll be the first to admit: watching the USA play football (eeeek, soccer) isn’t the most exciting thing in the world. BUT, while our record may impress, we still are (and always will be) a hundred times better than New Zealand. So take that, Kiwis!

Anyhow, back to the game. I watched every USA match, but not a single one was as exciting as the game on Saturday against Ghana. The game itself wasn’t amazing, but the scene certainly was. If you don’t mind, I’d like to tell you about it.

God bless the USA!
I reached Manhattan about an hour before the game was scheduled to begin. I poked around a couple places but nothing was catching my eye. I didn’t want to watch the USA take on the last remaining African team in just any bar. No, I wanted to find a bar seething in red, white and blue, with people running around nearly naked-clad only in the American flag-pouring pitchers of Budweiser from foot-long beer funnels. Ah, yes. This was precisely the scene I was going for, and precisely the scene I found.

Enter: Brother Jimmy’s.

I can smell destiny from a mile away, and that Saturday it came to me in the form of sweaty American boys and barbecued pork sandwiches. Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” blared from the speakers and, inside, the bar was packed full with American goodies. The bar itself was lined with freshly squeezed Budweiser, and young blondes in cleavage-friendly tank tops elbowed up the staircase with trays full of freedom fries.

The match would begin shortly, and I felt happy as a clam to have discovered the fine folks at Brother Jimmy’s in just enough time for some solid pre-gaming.

(Beer drinking and socializing commences----)

The USA played 90 minutes of outstanding football (sort of). We ended up losing the match by one goal, and although the loss was upsetting, somehow the pain became easier to bear after a few more Buds and some bro hugs.

Long story short (or the lesser of two longs).

If you haven’t been watching the World Cup, shame on you. But, really, it’s not too late to start. Things are just starting to heat up, and there’s plenty of time to pick a favorite player/team (and you can’t always pick the winning team- that’s cheating). You should watch football, not only because everyone else is doing it, but because…well, everyone else is doing it.

The energy, enthusiasm and emotions behind the World Cup are contagious. The USA may be out, but that only means there’s better football to come.

So…get into it.

8 comments:

Glenn Chickering said...

Come on Katelyn! The US Serbia game was crazy exciting! Not to mention the Algerian game!

Got the fever big time here in Bali! Wish I could have a few Bintangs watching the games with ya!

Great photos!

Jens said...

Katelyn, thank you for being American and calling it FOOTBALL. It's comforting to see that the concept of kicking a ball utilizing one's feet can be called by its rightful name:)

And about everything else you write - I love it. The world cup is awesome, and people who don't love it yet just need to get on the bus!

My teams this year was originally Mexico and Denmark. Of the teams left now, I'd have to say Germany. Mesut Øzil is fuckin' AMAZING. The next Zidane.

Jens said...

*were

Hopeless..

Anonymous said...

Soccer for life!

Anonymous said...

Soccer for life!

Anonymous said...

You are an awesome writer! Someone in high places should hire you professionally to write full-time!

Signed, anonymous

Woody Heffern (J.A.H.jr) said...

Thoroughly enjoyed reading this mind piece straight from the center of your grey matter. HOWEVER, still feel more comfortable calling it soccer. I don't know why?!

P.S. -- Schweinsteiger is probably easier to say piss drunk..

Meera said...

With the final fast approaching, I loved reading this article. I'm going to be a sour puss when FIFA fever is over! Still licking my wounds after Brazil's disappointing exit ...