Before the World Cup started, D. Jay Martin posted a compelling post titled Reasons Not to Not Watch the World Cup. I recognize the World Cup has ended and a champion has been crowned, but you should still read it if you have not yet done so. I fall squarely into the “I’m not a huge soccer fan, or even sports fan, and I don’t know a thing about it or where to start” camp. I don’t care even one tiny little bit about mainline professional sports. I don’t have a favorite baseball, basketball, hockey or football team. This past February, I didn’t know who was playing in the Super Bowl until the Friday before, and that was only because a coworker happened to mention it. I couldn’t tell you what sports are currently being played and which are off until the next season. Except football; I feel like it’s still too warm for football season to have started. I do like a couple sports, but most people would require quotation marks around the word “sports”: bowling, pool and curling. I loved watching pool and bowling on ESPN in the TV days (see here if you’re wondering what I mean by “the TV days”). In the past two winter Olympics, Annie and I have really enjoyed getting to know curling. It’s an amazing game of of finesse, physics and some bad-ass sweeping. Plus, it’s from Scotland, automatically making it awesome.
But, I digress. I would like to add, at this juncture, that I’m not opposed to sports. This weekend, there were two occasions where I was outside throwing a football with friends and my nephews. It was quite an enjoyable time. I’ll play the random game of basketball, football or soccer if I happen to be in the right place at the right time. And, let me tell you, if there were a curling rink around, I just might have to go buy myself a $200 broom. I just don’t get enthusiastic about watching sports.
So, why did I watch the World Cup when I obviously don’t care about it? One reason: A good friend invited me into it. I had no intention of getting into the World Cup in the months and weeks leading up to it. I read the news, so I knew it was coming, but I didn’t care. Then D. Jay posted about why my reason for not watching the World Cup wasn’t a good reason. I trust D. Jay and his opinions. We have a lot in common on a heart level, so I thought “All, right. I’ll do it for D. Jay.”
So, I watched a little bit of the first game, Brazil vs Croatia. Meh. I missed the second game, Mexico vs. Cameroon. Then I watched the Netherlands play Spain. At minute 44 in the game, I saw what might be the most amazing example of athleticism ever. Here’s a highlight reel from that game. Fast forward to 0:40 and watch Robin van Persie turn into Superman. I can’t watch this clip enough. It is simply amazing. It’s the perfect blend of elegant and hard-core. All right, I’m hooked now.
I watched as much of the World Cup as I could from that point on. If I missed a game, I’d go back later and watch the highlights. After the aforementioned goal, I was rooting for the Netherlands the whole way. Not a bad pick for my first World Cup. They finished 3rd. I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the 2014 World Cup.
I couldn’t figure out what was different about this versus other sports that I don’t care to watch. I had to think about it for a while before it hit me: I’d been invited into a world-wide party by somebody I love. D. Jay and I didn’t watch any of the games together. I don’t know who he was rooting for. I don’t know what his favorite plays of the tournament were. But we were connected somehow. This is something he loves, and he encouraged me to be part of it. It’s not about the sport; it’s about the relationship.