The Love of the Game
I’ve played soccer since I was five. I went from wearing little pink and black spandex to grass-stained Adidas wear. I simply love to play. It is one of the few sports that do not have time-outs, yup ninety minutes of running and only fifteen minutes break for a halftime, and a bunch of fat guys on steroids chewing tobacco certainly cannot contribute to the beautiful game. Soccer, or should I say football, is the only sport known throughout the entire world. The only sport that every four years; the world is content, yelling for their country on the big screen at the local pub. During the World Cup, each country is equal, no matter how poor, un-American, or small, for four weeks out of the summer, people are looked at not based on color, religion, wealth, but on how well their fellow countrymen can handle the ball.
I was in London this summer during the final match of the World Cup; Italy versus France. We went to a pub in the basement of a hotel to watch the game. I wore brown, a neutral color, afraid that I would run into the wrong person if I promoted either country. Surprisingly, no one cared if you were rooting for Italy and they were rooting for France. They laughed at us Americans for attempting to compete in the World Cup, but other then that, everyone just wanted to drink, joke around, and watch the most amazing athletes perform on the pitch. A woman and her grandson from Greece squeezed onto the sofa that I was sitting on and asked frankly, “American?” At first I was shy and just nodded. “Ahh,” she sighed, “France or Italy?” Italy was my response and she laughed at me. “You don’t mind sharing the same seat with a French supporter, do you?” she asked in her Greek accent. I shrugged, what the heck. A group of Chinese tourists sat in front of us, also supporters of France, a fleet of Spaniards made themselves comfortable across from us, cheering for Italy, and a couple on their honeymoon from America nestled in the corner. Four different cultures brought together in one room drawn because of the passion for the game. When the French player Zidane head-butted the Italian Materazzi, everyone flipped out, either amazed, pumped up, or angry. However, everyone applauded the incredible Frenchman as he was ejected from the game, you cannot ignore such a skilled footballer, he and others are respected by all. And everyone cried when Italy won in a shootout.
Although the tears at the end of the match were shed for obvious different reasons, everyone stuck around for another hour or so to enjoy another round on the house. In the end the Italians came out with the envied World Cup trophy, in the end I had acquaintances from all over the world, in the end, we were all brought together in a cramped hotel pub with the simple goal of watching the beautiful game. All around the world, people were drawn together to share the spirit and love for the game of soccer. For three hours, it didn’t matter where you were from, who your father was, what color you were, how much money you had, or how bad your country kicked another country’s butt. All that mattered was the game. If you were raised knowing calico, fútbol, football, Fußball, ????, soccer, for ninety minutes the world had found its happy medium, its peace keeper, its new way to introduce strangers and become friends.
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