Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sorry Switzerland!! (and France and US...)

Luckily for my little family, we come from a lot of different countries! So we still have one left to root for:

Leo supporting Holland at an ancient Roman theater (ruin) in Switzerland

It's so strange for me to be getting into the World Cup. Growing up, my whole family basically viewed professional sports as a brainless waste of time and money. The funny thing is this: the fact that teams represent actual countries makes a difference.

In U.S. professional sports, the teams are essentially a jumble of professional athletes -- all selected from the same pool -- by some random rich guy and/or corporation. Under the circumstances, it amazes me that anyone can feel any connection with a particular team.

In Europe, it's different. The teams in the various tournaments I've seen since living in Europe, though, really are citizens of the countries they represent. It seems like a trivial point, but it's not. It's not that I think a team's performance is a reflection on the country, but that the international interaction is fun. We were living in France during the Rugby World Cup a few years ago, and it was fun when our whole town was filled with visitors from Australia (as I talked about in the comments here). And we had a similar experience during the Cup of Europe that was held here in Switzerland a couple of years ago.

This time, it seemed like the whole country was excited about the possibility of Switzerland going beyond the first round. And, with my kids trading World Cup cards with their friends, it would be hard not to get into it. I even figured out the mysterious algorithm for deciding which teams get to advance! (In Friday's games, if only Switzerland had done better against Honduras than Spain had done against Chile, Switzerland would have been the ones playing Brazil next week -- sadly it didn't work out that way.)

Oh, well. As I said during the last World Cup "Maybe next time!"

Leo rooting for France in 2006 -- while sporting a haircut of his own creation.

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