I have a memory from high school of my friends Darren and Greg watching the World Cup at Greg’s house. I stopped by to hang out or go somewhere, and they were sitting in front of the TV, totally engrossed in some match. I remember trying to get into it but not knowing the language of the game — when to be happy, what cues to look for, etc. — and not being able to get excited about watching it. Eight or nine years later Darren was getting up early in the morning to go watch games at the pub across from his apartment in Boston before. I was jealous of his excitement and devotion; at the time I had to remind myself that the World Cup was happening or else I wouldn’t pay attention at all. I finally got excited when Brazil won and all of the Brazilians in my Allston neighborhood went crazy.
This year I’ve vowed to keep on top of it, and I have. I watched Argentina beat the Ivory Coast on Saturday (a shame) and Mexico beat Iran yesterday. It was so fun I was involuntarily jumping out of my seat when a goal was scored, and I even asked the man at the laundromat to turn on the game as I did my laundry.
Besides the awesome United Nations-esque feel of the thing (how cool was it to watch Mexico and Iran play each other?), I’ve finally found it fun to watch the game on TV, to get to know the players and the rules. I suspect this is what it’s like for my English friends to try to watch baseball: they have to learn the language of the game — the players, the rules, the rhythms, and so on, or else it just seems completely boring.
And I have to admit that I’m happy the U.S. lost to the Czech Republic today.
On a related note, Nicole learned a side-effect of working for an international NGO where many languages are heard and read all day. As we watched Saturday’s game, an alert popped up on the TV: “Trinidad and Tobago stuns Sweden.”
“Oh, is that what shtun means? To beat?” Nicole asked, not knowing that this was, in fact, a sentence written in English.