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world cup withdrawal

July 13, 2010

I was exhausted on Monday after cheering the Spaniards on to their World Cup victory all of Sunday afternoon and celebrating into the evening.  Rosario, Angelica and I sat on the couch chanting ‘España! España! España! and singing‘Olé, olé, olé, olé, olé, olé!’.  We cringed with every foul, agonized over every missed goal, and sighed with relief after saved goals and near-misses by the opposing team.  We rejoiced with all of España at minute 116, throwing our hands in the air with elation.  And again at end of the game when the Spanish victory became official.

It wasn’t the prettiest game ever played but the Three Musketeers (consisting of Rosario, Angelica and me) were pleased with the result.  Of course, we had wanted it to be USA or Mexico at the end but the most deserving of the two final teams won, and we were glad to see España lift the trophy amid the shower of confetti.

My energy is slowly returning today, along with the sad realization that it’s all over.  I wasn’t obsessive about watching the games or following all the news surrounding the events, but I paid attention to the wins and losses of the past several weeks.

I enjoy most sports, including soccer.  Sure there are plenty of reasons to dislike soccer, many of which were on display Sunday afternoon and all throughout the World Cup games: 116 scoreless minutes, fouls, dirty play, whining, bad officiating, games ending in ties, etc.  Competitions often bring out the best and worst in men, and that was certainly true for the World Cup.  Of course that is one of many reasons I appreciate the game: the best qualities in men.

Soccer takes a great deal of athleticism, talent and endurance.  It also requires passion and drive.  It was refreshing to see the players walk onto the pitch with manly determination, confidence, focus and intensity, completely committed to their task.  The athletes were a stark contrast to the generation of young men* produced by modern society who lack focus and direction as well as a sense of urgency in finding either.**  I didn’t watch a lot of the media coverage so I have no idea if these men were forced to apologize for their manhood, as happens from time to time, but there was no denying the unabashed exhibit of manliness on the field.  I found the display of masculinity inspiring to see at such a global level.

And now it’s all over.  Let the withdrawals begin!  I always experience a time of mourning the end of a (favorite) sports season, but I will rally again.  As one season ends, another begins.  How many more weeks until college football kicks off?  Still, I shall miss the intensity, passion and athletic finesse of soccer.  Four years sure is a long time to wait for the next World Cup, but until then…

Felicidades, España!

*I realize there are exceptions to this generalization.  If you are such a man who is the exception, you have my appreciation: well done.  If you have been a part of the generalization and are currently attempting to become an exception, you have my support: keep up the good work.  If you are still stuck in the generalization, to you I say ‘Man up!’ (In other words: Grow up; make a decision or two; take action in your life; and accept the responsibility of being a man.).

**I am sure many of these same soccer players could easily fall under the generalization above in other areas of their lives, but I am referring to them only in relation to them as athletes and in the context of the World Cup games.

photos c/o Road to 2010 World Cup Final and Joy Online

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