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And, yes, I DO take it personally: World Cup Fever
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Saturday, June 10, 2006

World Cup Fever

I’m like Prof. Marcus in that normally, I do not care so much for pro sport, but something about the Cup has me jumping and shouting in my little apartment, possibly alarming the neighbors, at players with names like Schweinsteiger and Crespo and Drogba. It is a jumbled, ecstatic feeling of pride and participation (yes, the U.S. has a good team), a schizophrenic love of nationhood and world community raging within, each side struggling for victory. I got the fever all right. There is a saying that the way Americans get to know world geography is through the wars we start; it is entirely true. The World Cup is a war between nations, but one whose consequences, at least for the average viewing fan, are at worst a poorly considered outfit, a crippling hangover or a hoarse voice. Yes, we get to learn a little about places on the map we had no idea existed, and maybe even come to familiarize ourselves a bit with the players – demi–gods - who grace the perfectly manicured lawns in the gargantuan coliseums that dot our planet and the billions of crazed fans who worship them. We see dark, mysterious faces battling alongside the milkiest of skin, the blondest of blond. We see arch-typical physiques of each nation, read the exotic names of their ancestors on the jerseys that not even the announcers can pronounce correctly. We see flags hoisted and hear the songs in strange languages, so many that any one dissolves and all somehow blend together. And after its all over, and the battle strategies and tactics have been exhausted, win or lose, the players shake hands, hug, exchange jerseys, laugh, cry and celebrate: they made it to the World Cup!

PS: The U.S. plays Czech Republic on Monday afternoon………………………

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