Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Best Things in the World: the World Cup

If you're reading this, you're probably American. And if you're American, you're probably ignoring the World Cup. And if you're ignoring the World Cup, you're missing one of the Best Things in the World. Few things on this globe bring humanity together like the World Cup. It's a worldwide soccer tournament, in short, in which eleven men represent an entire country in the hopes of bringing home glory and goal-scoring accolades. Why is it so great? Let me count the ways.

One: it involves the whole world. That's pretty noteworthy right there. Short of war, and, um, oil?, few things in this world involve everyone. Maybe more than that, for Americans, few things even make us aware of other countries. It is so easy in this nation, where goods come so easily and all we could ever need is just a gas tank away, to forget that other peoples and lands exist. It's not that we don't like other countries, necessarily. It's just that we don't even care about them. We have no need for them. Well, the World Cup draws us out of such stupid self-mindedness and brings before us different countries with their different anthems, their different hairstyles, and their different abilities. We learn, ever so briefly, that we are not the only country out there, particularly when we get thrashed at the hands of nations that have less gross exports than the state of Rhode Island. That's a good thing. It's good to learn there's a world out there, and to begin to appreciate it.

I in particular like to see how different testosterone-filled men can look and yet still be manly. We American men sometimes suffer from a disorder in which we think that true masculinity looks exactly and only like us. That is to say, those who are truly masculine shave every day, part their hair neatly 2/3 of the way across the scalp, and wear black cleats when sporting. Well, we may look like that, but a whole lot of other men don't. It is to God's glory that men look differently than other men. So it's fun to see Ronaldinho of Brazil with his long hair, or Zinedine Zidane of France with his cool shaved head, or David Beckham of England with his weird 'dos. Nowhere in the Bible do we see a prescribed masculine dress code--and certainly not in the World Cup.

Two: the playing. The conducting of the sport, the sportage, the contest. Soccer is immensely fun to watch, if you simply relax your overindulged American sports senses and enjoy a humongous athletic chess match. Just try and watch Brazil play and not be amazed. Athletics represents another language, another means by which we are blessed to see beauty, and soccer is one slice of that beauty. The long balls, the long runs, the 80 mile an hour shots into the back of the net, the slide tackles--it's a beautiful sport. True, there's not alot of scoring, but you don't need it. Just watch a player fend two others off with fancy footwork and turn-on-a-dime quickness and your jaw will drop. Now, after all this, I'm hoping that you're still American. But maybe, just maybe, you're interested in watching the World Cup? After all, it's probably (haha) one of the Best Things in the World.


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