Tuesday, November 2, 2010

World Cup Farewell

(This was written during my self-imposed hiatus, so it's a bit dated. But it does provide important follow-up information...)

One last World Cup note before we tuck away the soccer ball for another four years. Listening to the “play-by-play” announcers for the past four weeks have convinced me once again that American culture, while eminently democratic in appealing to the masses (including me), lacks a sense of refinement and grace. It’s not just that soccer…okay, football…is referred to as “The Beautiful Game,” and it’s not only that you win but you lose points if you don’t do so with style. It’s the use of phrases such as “He performed nobly for his country” after a particulary good defensive play, and the liberal scattering of words like “rarified” and “tenacity.” By way of contrast, an American commentator described World Cup Final as, “like putting a pig on lipstick.” (And while it may not represent culture, nobody does enthusiasm like Andres Cantor, the Univision commentator who says the word

followed closely by Al Michaels asking, “Do you believe in miracles?” during the 1980 Winter Olympics, Russ Hodges shouting “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!” way back in 1951, or Jeff Spicoli letting us know that “That was my head! I’m so wasted!”

A number of us have decided that we love the pig, however, so we’re already planning to head out to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. It just looks like so much fun…and we have our own vuvuzelas… that it would be wrong not to go. So we started talking about other places you could have the World Cup, and that maybe we could resolve world issues through soccer. Maybe Israel could hold the World Cup, teams could be based on religious preference, and they could duke it out over Jerusalem as a way of brigning peace to the Holy Land. Personally, if we do it that way, my bets are on the Catholics. They’ve got a drawing pool of Argentina, Brazil, the Guays (Para and Uru), Italy, Spain, and Portugal going for them. Second place would be the hard-working protestants of Northern Europe…the Germans and the Dutch. (I would put the English in this category, but I don’t think there’s anything that can make those folks play together. Divine might only goes so far.)

This idea is similar to something my father came up with many years ago. He noted that virtually every athlete will, at some point, thank heaven for the most recent victory, despite the fact that God, being the author of life, death, and the universe, probably had other things on his mind than bestowing his grace on an NCAA Division III contest. But since every victorious athlete believes that God is on his side, my Dad thought that the best way to sort this out is to have a football bracket similar to March Madness, with all the teams from religion-based colleges included. (No secular humanist powerhouses, like Alabama, Texas, Florida, or Cal-Berkley need apply). That way you get tussles like Baylor at SMU, Brigham Young against TCU, and Notre Dame against Brandeis. The winner would clearly be the team that God really favors in the end.

(Personally, I’m not so sure that God doesn’t pay attention to football. I like to believe that the Lord is a long-time Saints fan…it fits…and maybe he does intervene in miraculous ways. I mean, Peyton Manning throws a last minute interception in the Super Bowl? Peyton Manning? How can you not see divine hands at work here?)

I this idea a lot, and I know my father’s willing to put good money out there on the Disciples of Touchdown Jesus. And I’m pretty sure he’s right. After all, Peyton did throw that interception…

(Here's the updates. Paul the Octopus, the Clairvoyant Cephalopod who correctly predicted the outcome of every World Cup match involving Germany, had died. Viewing was held at the Olive Garden in Munich.

Larissa Riquelme, the Paraguayan lingerie model who pledged to run naked in the streets of Asuncion if the national team won the World Cup final, has not let a loss in the quarters stand in her way. As her tribute to the bold Guyanos, she was pictured in various patriotic poses in the 7th issue of the newspaper Diario Popular. They're quite stirring, and bound to engender a significant amount of national pride. Yep, that's the euphemism we'll use for that.)

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