I wrote about my anticipation of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in my last column, and I thought it might be fun to do a follow up.
As of this writing, the tournament is drawing to a close. On Wednesday, my favorite team, the German National Team, had the “honor” of eliminating Brazil, the host country. This means they will definitely be in the final.
Watching this particular World Cup has been fun, if not terribly exciting. I was disappointed by several of my old European friends. England was a particularly bad offender. It’s not that I have any particular love for its team, I was just used to seeing it advance at least as far as the “Round of 16.”
There was quite a bit of the unexpected and unusual. No one expected the Americans to get as far as they did — not even the Americans. Despite usually reserving a scoff and a haughty toss of the head for my countrymen, I found that Tim Howard managed to defend his way into to my heart. I am glad they got at least some time in the sun.
I have been pulling for Germany since the outset. I am part German, so rooting for them comes as naturally as my nominal support of the American team. No one stood out as a flawless contender in the group stages and Germany was no exception.
Still, they bucked up, and I just watched them send poor Brazil packing in a 7-1 evisceration. I had no love for Brazil, and I still want to personally hug some of the Brazilian players after that humiliation.
In my last column, I expressed some interest in rooting for Spain, the incumbent winners. By sheer coincidence, that column was published on the day of Spain’s first devastating defeat.
As I said on Twitter: “I take it back. I take it back so much. Call me a fair-weather fan!”
Still, I don’t think I could have predicted they’d fail in quite so spectacular a fashion. Even defeated incumbents usually make it to the quarterfinals.
Despite my wretched misgivings about the ethics and extravagance of the staging, there’s something primal about the World Cup that keeps me from turning away. I feel as though I’m watching something downright ancient.
It is a feeling I get whenever I am watching most major sporting events. The feeling is that our love of the physical, the simple dichotomy of win or lose is a common thread tying all of humanity to everything that has come before.
For better or for worse, win, lose or draw — that is why I stick with it to the very end.