June 26, 2006

Saturday, June 24, 2006 12:16 PM
I’m sitting in the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and there is a flurry of people around. The World Cup is in full swing. I’m not sure what I expected to see, but I was anticipating a larger presence of World Cup enthusiasts. I have seen some people wearing their country colors for the World Cup and a couple who were really decked out. I have heard more comments of fans than anything else. There have been Mexico, Portugal, obviously Holland, Japan, England and others. These people are not overly distinguishable from others, of course I’m not going to be on a flight to Germany where I might have a different opinion. I have learned that football whether it is the American power sport or the world finesse sport is treated as a religion by its adherents.
The matches that I have seen on television have been good, but leave it to American networks to run two games simultaneously so you can’t watch both of them. Yet in American, the world cup has had to compete with the NBA playoffs, the NHL playoffs, and the college baseball world series, which is still going on. In fact I would appreciate the opportunity to have been able to watch more of the NCAA baseball championships. So, while the rest of the world turns almost all of its attention to the World Cup, it only makes the front of the sports section in the US when we are eliminated.
I’m at my destination in Cyprus and the World Cup is very evident. As I walk along the strip every nightclub, pub, and restaurant has a large flat screen plasma television. Last night I was at the beach at a local outdoor restaurant with 2 big screens so you could see the game wherever you were. Between the two matches we watched the Toronto Grand Prix. It’s all in Greek so I’m watching, but I can figure most of it out. England barely pulled it out in their game. It would have been a sad town for all the visiting British had they lost – and I suspect it wouldn’t have been good for business either. I sat with a local crowd and since Cyprus and Greece are not in the world cup they were respectively quiet. My table was pulling for Holland and we thought for sure they would pull it out. I won’t pretend that I know all there is to know about football, but I’m learning. Some of the strategies don’t make sense to me, while others are easily discernible.
Fans are fans, wherever you go. Some are fan-atical while others are reserve. Not being a sport fanatic I find sometimes that the dedication and commitment by fans to teams to be partially unfathomable. I don’t suspect I will soon be a fanatic, but appreciate grows within. Yes, I still long for a good baseball game where I seemingly understand what is happening.


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