I admit it. I started watching the World Cup out of obligation. An obligation to my social life. I am living abroad and as a friend told me when I tried to turn down an invitation to see the first game, if I didn’t watch the World Cup, I’d have no friends for a month.
So I went to the bar. And then I went again. And again. I drank. A few games later, I watched. I cheered. I asked questions. I absorbed. And now, almost a month later, my head is filled with fabulous trivia about the world’s most popular sport. (It turns out soccer – I mean football – is fascinating.)
But now what? The World Cup ends on Sunday. What do we do with all this new information?
I know that the Spanish exert constant pressure, putting most of their players on the offense as they repeatedly try to score. But that strategy can backfire because their goal can be left with only a few players to defend it. I know England is normally strong, but this year they didn’t even look excited to be there. I know it can be better to get a foul than let the other team score. And fouls are common – players kick and trip and pull their opponents onto the ground. (Maybe we should tell Americans how violent this sport is.)
I know corner kicks are dangerous. I know Ghana was Africa’s last hope, and we all mourned when Uruguay prevented a goal. I know the goalie can’t use his hands outside the box. Speaking of goalies, there have been so many goalie errors this year!
I know a player can’t return once he’s taken out, and the clock doesn’t stop but referees add a few – seemingly indiscriminate – minutes at the end, and there are no commercials except during halftime.
I know Angela Merkel loved that game against Argentina. Where was she during the semifinals?
Most interesting to me have been the outfits. You probably think so too but because I am a woman I’m allowed to say it. Uruguay in light blue and Netherlands in orange was a lovely combination. Germany’s black tops were hot. And while a goalie dressed like a florescent banana disturbed me at first, I know there’s logic behind it: people think the players will be distracted by the color. I still don’t understand why teams must match their jerseys, shorts and shin guards, but players are allowed to choose their own – often hideous – cleats.
I also think I get why people like to talk sports so much. You gather all this information, you don’t want it to go to waste. You want to share it with friends. You want credit for how hard you paid attention.
No, I didn’t watch any games by myself. I only saw one from the beginning. And I didn’t realize the teams switch sides at halftime until Spain beat Germany. But I still count myself as a fan. It took one World Cup, and I’m converted.
As much fun as it’s been, perhaps it’s not so bad to have four years off. I need time to recover. And my friends owe me a serious number of Grey’s Anatomy episodes.
Follow Hanna on Twitter: @Hanna_India