By the time these words are being read, Argentina will have lifted the cup, and Messi will have replaced Maradona as Argentina’s demigod, and Maradona will enter a permanent identity crisis that he will not overcome. Throughout the past month we have been consumed with this quadrennial worldwide celebration, and especially consumed with our host country, Colombia, having a deep and successful run. It is no secret that I am a sports fan. For me, the World Cup has to be my favorite sporting event; it transcends sport and essentially brings the world together for four exciting weeks. I have watched the World Cup in Panama, Paraguay, and now Colombia, and I have noticed that even if your country is not participating that year, the entire population will stop for the games. It has been even more fun to be in a country that is participating, and Colombia’s deep run and the subsequent celebrations after each key win have been an amazing cultural experience.
What makes the Cup special is how each team unites their country and how the entire world comes together simply to watch 22 men chase a ball for 90+ minutes. Additionally, each team is a true expression of their country and culture, and patriotism runs thick. Who doesn’t get goose bumps to hear fans and athletes singing their respective national anthems at the top of their lungs? Whether it be the precise and efficient German team, the hardworking and resilient U.S. team making up for lack of talent, the passion and dancing abilities of the Colombian team, or the pure samba-inspired artistry of the Brazilian team, you can get a feel for what the culture of a country is based on how they play fútbol. Finally, my favorite part is the deep respect that players show for each other at the end of each game. Exchanging shirts when the game is finished, hugs before and after the game, or even tweets recognizing outstanding performances, the players display true sportsmanship that we all could learn from (ok, ok, maybe not Luis Suarez). The best show of this was the deep respect shown to James Rodriguez at the conclusion of the Brazil/Colombia game.
The World Cup is so much more than a sporting event. It is something I go out of my way to make time for every four years. I scream for the U.S. team, celebrate my favorite players (Messi), and enjoy the success of the countries (Paraguay and Colombia) that I have been lucky enough to live in. For the past four weeks I have enjoyed watching games with my family, getting the boys hooked on the World Cup, celebrating with Colombians and recruiting them for support of the U.S. team. Once again, the World Cup has not disappointed. If only this unity from the past four weeks can translate into our relationships with each other across the entire year.
I hope you have all enjoyed the build-up to the event and the deep run that Colombia has had. You are truly luck to have witnessed the craziness that is the World Cup.