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Soccer? Please, it’s Futball

June 20, 2006

This week, one of the international sports highlights of many years started – the World Cup. The World Cup, unlike the World Series, isn't a misnomer. While the rest of the world cheered, danced, and generally fought it out for who's sports commentator could stretch out the word "Gol!" for the longest time (current world record: 5 hours, by that guy on Telemundo the other day), the United States prided itself on generally more snore-inducing sports like NASCAR, and America's Next Top Model.

But suddenly, it seems that awareness of the World Cup is reaching, if maybe not a critical mass, at least a common knowledge in day-to-day life. I think, maybe because of our sudden need to pay attention to the world more, or maybe because the internet doesn't have country, that we poke our heads up from the epic Yankees/Red Soxs battle and recognize that "Hey, we've got a team playing in that thing" and "Why does everybody else call it football?"

Imagine my surprise the other week, in my hope to find the U.S.- Czech Republic match, that it was playing on the flat screens in J Street ( GW's food-court/cafeteria). Those screens usually carry CNN or its international counterpart, but that day it was tuned to ESPN2 (not quite the Wide World of Sports). J Street, usually only filled with Wendy's patrons during the summer, was playing host to a strange collection of Colonial Cabinet members, World Bank employees, and student workers, all with their eyes fixed on a screen, food messily dripping off their faces.
Except this was the politest, calmest World Cup viewing ever. No chants, no flags painted on various parts of the body, no drunken riots in the streets. When the U.S. team looked like they were almost about to score a goal, there was slight cheering, and few "Come on"s. The full appreciation of soccer didn't seem normal to us, so stuck between faking World Cup fever and geninue interest, people fiddled with their fries and Frosties, biting their lips and realizing how Trinidad and Tobago feels when they show up to the Winter Olympics.

World Cup 2010, that's when we'll get proper riots.

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