twelve years. that's how long it's been since i've felt a measurable ping of excitement for soccer and its global culmination, the world cup. and i'll admit up front that it has nothing to do with a passion for the sport itself (for a long time, my closest associations with soccer were chronic cases of shin splints and juicy orange slices offered on the sidelines), and everything to do with finding myself in the midst of the passion other people feel. when it comes to sports, i'm 100% sheep, following the crowd as the spirit takes hold.
twelve years ago, i was on an adventure. in boston for the first time with my good friend erin and a respected teacher, leslie, i marveled at the city and marveled at our good fortune, spending two nights at the ritz carlton with a view of the boston commons. it really wasn't until the first full day in the city that i got a big taste of what world cup fever felt like, and we were treated to a full range of its reach. breakfast began next to a man and his young, beautiful, brazilian wife. they lived in boston but decided to spend time at the ritz to celebrate the occasion. in retrospect, perhaps it was more of a conciliatory gesture on the fellow's part for not taking his wife to see a brazilian match in california. in any case, the man took great delight in detailing the joys of popping the corks off bottles of dom perignon to see how far they would fly down his green, expansive, manicured, lawn. the pair cared a lot more about money than football, but they somehow managed to pique my interest in watching a live game of international soccer.
instead of watching italy defeat spain that afternoon, we took in the downtown sights, admiring trinity church's reflection in the glass panes of the john hancock building. missing the game, though, didn't mean missing out on the post-victory elation; tall buildings magnified the italians' ecstatic parade of celebration. the sound of car horns ricocheted off the walls and up to the sky as shouts and flags and arms all waved out the windows. i'd never seen anything like it before, and i loved it.
but not enough to start following soccer in the years that followed. in the end, it was still foreign enthusiasm that flocked to the streets of boston that summer. the enthusiasm of others is taking hold again, though, and this time it's in the country where i live. i doubt patricio and i will be carving much time out of our days to watch the games in june, but i'd be lying if i claimed not to harbor hopes of a crazy mexican defeat of brazil. there's such a huge wave of national pride and investment in the team's favor, it's impossible not to buy into it at least a little bit.
from banks to milk producers, it seems like every business is into the fútbol business, advertising opportunities to win tickets: plane tickets to germany and stadium tickets to matches in nuremburg, hanover and gelsenkirchen. in an effort to further ignite pride in the national mexican soccer team, the television company, televisa, has been airing a campaign with the slogan ponte la verde, or put on the green, referring to the team's green jerseys. in fact, every time the t.v. is on a number of world cup-related ads are run--and this has been happening since i arrived last september. in my case, it's proof that advertising wields immense power over the minds of the public. for the first time in twelve years, i'm excited about soccer. and who knows? maybe we'll even end up trying the dom perignon thing in the garden for some celebratory kicks. i'm game.