When the players who take the pitch at the World Cup final in South Africa on Saturday nigtht are not wearing the flag of your particular country stitched onto the corner of their jerseys, a certain dispassionate interest, bordering on indifference, naturally takes root. This is not necessarily altogether a negative development. Since one's national pride is no longer (or had never been) at stake, one can develop a deeper appreciation or disillusionment with the game itself. One can be a North American and love soccer, or hate soccer, but surely that vast middle section of Canada and America (absenting Mexico) exists whereupon one can not work up a lather about a sport seen by so few and adored by even fewer. Thus watching the game at length during the World Cup tends to make one see why most of the planet pines for its holy structure, but such understanding inevitably leads to a disarray in one's sporting heart. Yes, the low-score creates a level of anticipation akin to a child at the circus waiting for the clowns to finally come out of their miniature car. Certainly, the no-time-outs maximizes the playing time and necessitates the absence of commercials -- no minor miracle in this advanced advertising age!
But what can one raised on hockey and baseball do with everything else about the game? Nothing specifically monotonous endgenders such lethargy. After all, one cannot play the sport for two years as I did from the tender ages of seven to eight without gaining a certain respect for the game's sense of space and time. As a halfback, I was a terrible player, as all children are, but I was the worst of the worst; I hung past the centreline and stared at the grass and thought about the oranges we would all eat at halftime. Sweet and juicy! Such was my limit of love for the game.
However, a game is a game, and all children love games, and all children grow into adults who remember that love, no matter how strongly they deny its primitive pull. So with Canada content to sharpen its blades while waiting for the winter hockey season to start, I can look forward to Spain taking the soccer world by storm, by hook, by crook. The stakes are suddenly high for me, as of late. An office pool randomly gave me Spain as my savior. More than ten dollars awaits. Has money tainted this beautiful game?
Only if I lose.