Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The World Cup

We have had the good fortune of being in France twice in the past years during the Tour de France. We did not actually see any of the race live but we saw the route being set up, bicycles delivered, and the Champs Elysses being prepared for the finale in Paris. The TV in places we'd stay would have coverage and one could not help but overhear shop keepers discuss Lance Armstrong. But this was nothing compared to being in Europe during the World Cup.

Frankly, if you are a sports person, you really have not lived until you have sampled the world's fervor over the World Cup. We were never in Berlin where the games are being played but every village and every bar had TV screens in all of Europe where people would gather to watch. It was the number one topic of discussion. We even met a Dutch guy on the train as we traveled from Venice, Italy to Ljubljana, Slovenia who was visiting every country in Europe when their team was playing. He wanted to be a part of the excitement.

We would hear people cheering in the bars and in the streets if a favorite team was successful. Everywhere we went there were soccer souvenirs. Even the toilet paper in the apartment we rented in Ljubljana had soccer players in a pattern. We came home with soccer chocolates from Vienna. It all made me realize how completely unimportant the United States is to the rest of the world. They do not care about our local football SuperBowl nor do they know a thing about our internal baseball World Series. World Cup soccer actually involves the entire world---North America, South America, the countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe. This is a huge huge event bigger than the Olympics and we are a minor insignificant participant.

My son retuurned home today. He did not come home with us yesterday but he spent one more day with his friends in Munich, Germany. As we were bringing him home from the airport, he sang for us the German cheer song his friends taught him. All he could talk about was the game between Germany and Italy today in the semi-finals.

The United States needs to get over itself and realize an entire globe exists beyond our borders. And these folks are proud of their countries and their "real" football teams.