In the World Cup of soccer, this is a minnow facing a salmon. Costa Rica is ranked 28th in the world, with a population of 5,000,000. Italy is 9th, with 61,000,000. I wonder why I always pull for the underdog, the little guy. I guess it’s a part of my “no one left out” vision of life.
So I want someone to win, and someone else to lose. I get nervous when my team is behind. Costa Rica is “me”, and Italy is certainly “not me”. But Costa Rica doesn’t always succeed, and even if they do eventually win the match, they’re often trailing their opponent at the half. So … I get to be unhappy a fair bit of the time. Gosh, is that really necessary? Isn’t there some other approach I can take to “the beautiful game”?
Maybe. How about if I pull for the team who plays to win, rather than the one trying not to lose? The players who push the ball up the field with long passes, who shoot first and pass second when the scoring opportunity is there, and on defence throw their foot at the opponent’s ball to knock it away, risking a penalty if that foot contacts leg first, rather than the ball.
Or … cheer for the team who really belts out their national anthem at the beginning of the game, whose fans chant and sing and jump up and down. You know, a country that drips with passion for life.
On the other hand, maybe I don’t have to cheer for either team. I could just drink in the essence of great plays – the hard shot that looks like it’s going wide right and then curves towards the net, only to be batted away by a horizontally leaping goaltender. The deft flick of the head or of the outside of the foot, placing the ball softly at the feet of an onrushing teammate. I could just cheer for wonderfulness, no matter the colour of the jersey. And I could stand up for games that are close all the way through, where the excellence of one team sparks the excellence of the other. Wow … maybe I could be happy all the time during World Cup 2014.
By the way, Costa Rica won 1-0. I’m happy.