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Desmond Tutu is now one of my top 5 favorite people ever.
I have to admit: I’ve never been a soccer fan… ever. I have always thought it was just a sport you play until you get serious about baseball or football in high school.
That is, until this summer.
After I was surprised how much I enjoyed hockey and the Stanley Cup playoffs, I figured I would give soccer a try with the World Cup. I’m very glad I did.
While the games are in no way fast, in such a way that I’m typing this during the South Africa/Uruguay match, I still find something captivating about them. There’s much more strategy to these games than I originally gave them credit, something I also found in hockey. I was amazed one set of teams could draw 0-0, while the Germans could march into South Africa and demolish their first opponent with ease. I loved how even in the final extra minutes of the games (a concept I’m still trying to understand), a team like New Zealand can go from down and out to right back in the standings with a last-second goal.
Here’s a list of a few other things that have drawn me away from my typical baseball fandom this summer:
– The rainbow of uniforms. I love seeing every design from every team, trying to figure out things like why the Netherlands dresses their team like an 11-pack of highlighters.
– The nicknames of certain teams, like the All-Whites (NZ) or La Rojo Furia (ESP).
– The national anthems- I have yet to come across a World Cup match where I haven’t shed a tear as the teams stand together pre-game and sing their country’s anthem with pride, as off-key as some of them may be.
-The convenient schedule- The World Cup is perfect for someone like me since I can watch all 3 matches and then have plenty of time for dinner and the Phillies game.
-The vuvuzelas- Yes, I am a supporter. (more on this later)
For those who know me, this will be hard to believe, but before I went to bed last night, I looked up which teams were playing the next day and not the pitching matchup for the Phillies Yankees. Side note/programmer note: I can’t wait for Friday, since the two teams I’m rooting for (due to the absence of Ireland), Germany and the United States, play that day. If I were you, I’d take off work.
So what have I learned over my summer vacation so far?
Soccer is pretty fun to watch, and it definitely helps ease the pain of the Phillies being 3.5 games back right now.
Oh, one last thing: the vuvuzelas. DON’T COMPLAIN. While I do sometimes get scared because I think a swarm of Africanized Bees will come after me if I switch the channel, they are a part of the tradition of South Africa, just as “Fly Eagles Fly” is a Philadelphia tradition or “Let’s go St. Joe’s” is a Hawk tradition. While vuvuzelas get annoying, can’t you say the same thing about E-A-G-L-E-S chants or “Let’s go Mets?”
Hey, they at least help drown out Bob Ley, Mike Tirico, and Alexi Lalas sometimes.
-Tom Hagan ’10