Insight News

Dec 18th

Africa already won with the World Cup

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soccerIf I’m not mistaken, soccer/futbol has just gained a new generation of fans through the display put on at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Obviously, you can count me in this group of new fans because not only do I want to watch more soccer (especially international competition), but I’m salty about quite a few things post-World Cup – you’re only salty if you care, so like I said, count me in.

Perhaps the biggest factor that has provided such a grand opportunity to engage with the Worlds’ most popular sport, is the setting; if you didn’t know the beauty of South Africa (and the whole continent for that matter), then like Biggie said, “…now you know, (Brotha).”

History was made, with this being the first World Cup hosted on the African continent in the tournaments’ 80year history. I’m thinking something’s not right about that, but everything seemed right, good and bad, in Pretoria and the several other tournament venues of South Africa. The vastness that could be seen and felt in the African background, made the event feel like the definition of its name. The venues all seemed ideal (at least on the ole’ HDTV), and I don’t care what most folks felt about it, I thought the vuvuzela noise added both fun and intensity to the experience. Plus, I like to try and put my foot in others’ shoes, because if I was in one of those stadiums, I bet my last dollar I’d be a horn blowin’fool. On top of all of that, I was a fan of the simple fact that teams were successful from all corners, and countries, of the World – I would make fun of North Korea, but I suppose that would contradict my Kumbaya feelings about the whole event.

As the recent ESPN documentary special (“30 for 30”) displayed in telling the story of the Colombian futbol team of the 1994 World Cup, where the circumstances for one player were a matter of life and death, soccer is serious business around the World. The World is inhabited by a bunch of kids, old and young, so it’s only fitting that a simple sport like soccer might rule, as well as reflect the growth of the many World nations.

That good feeling also leads me to my salty side of the whole World Cup 2010 epiphany. To be successful in the World Cup means so much to the morale of so many ascending nations, that I just really hated the whole handball thing in the Ghana game (and those around me are sick of me woofin’). Now I can say this because I wasn’t a huge soccer fan before – and thus deserve a moment of complaint prior to accepting the fact that they ain’t changing the rules just for me – but that was weeeak, as the kids say. To compare, I make the ridiculous argument: what if while Michael Jordan was making his classic shot against the Utah Jazz in the NBA Finals, one of the Utah players ran up and put his hand over the rim so the shot wouldn’t go in? That would be weeeak. It would be even weaker if they didn’t just give Jordan the two points for the goaltending offense, but rather had him shoot two free throws to earn the points instead. Naw man, that’s cheatin’.

It’s hard enough as it is to score points in soccer, and the Uruguayan player goes and swats the ball away with BOTH hands! You have to watch the swish when someone shoots the ball over your head in basketball; you have to watch the baseball sail over your head and into the upper deck when someone hits a homerun on you as a pitcher; so when the Ghanaian Blackstars boot a field goal in your grill during the tense closing moments of the greatest match of the tournament… But like I said before, there are a whole bunch of little Ghanaian boys and girls who are salty right there with me!! And they’re drinking milk you see!!

These types of arguments will always come out of sports, and it sure won’t stop me from keeping a closer eye on the world of soccer. Across the United States I think that perhaps a tipping point population of people were captivated, just as I was, by the show put on in South Africa. There are quite a few “Ghanaian Blackstars” of sorts all over the United States, though their last name might be Scott or Jordan. Soccer balls are cheap. And as far as the wave of kids that could get scholarships in the big world of soccer, we could once again say it all started in Africa. Congratulations to the Motherland.

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