Dear Eleanor and Wesley,
Every four years, you will notice something strange happen to your Father. An inexplicable obsession will utterly overtake me. Symptoms may include inattentiveness, erratic scheduling, myopic comptetive focus, a dramatically increased interest in foreign names and places, and a tendency to kick any round object within reach. In any other country, this trend would not be an aberration, but here in The States it afflicts a disproportionately small percentage of the population. Of course I am talking about World Cup Fever.
At the point you read this letter, I dream that the explanation will not be necessary, as you will be equally afflicted. In the event that the fever has backfired and created a month of bitterness and regret due to my impairment, I feel compelled to justify my enthusiasm.
Since the moment Decartes declared “I think, therefore I am”, the question of the meaning behind our humanity has been embedded in all of us. One slice of this answer must come from the beautiful game. In 2010, the World Cup final was viewed, for at least a moment, by 3.2 billion people world wide. That was 46.4 percent of the global population doing the same thing at the same time. It stands as one of the two most unifying events in human history. The first is the 2008 Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony, and honestly who could tear their eyes away from that unparalleled spectacle of totalitarian whimsy.
The thing about soccer, or football as the rest of the world rightly calls it, is that it crosses almost every known boundary of social convention. Men and women of every culture, creed, language, and location embrace it. Among the most humble of games, all that is required is a bare stretch of earth and a round object that can pass for a ball. The poorest of the poor indulge as a treasured pastime, and the outrageously rich pour money over their teams with grotesque fervor. Hidden somewhere within the movement, skill, sweat, and glory of this competition we tap into a direct line of primal emotion. The height of joy in victory and the bittersweet sorrow of shared defeat washes as waves through the global current of frenzied fandom.
Though I could never understand it, I begrudgingly recognize that you may not love the game the way I do; but the fact is that for this one month you have to pretend. You simply don’t have a choice. Your grandpa was soccer player. Your uncles were soccer players. I spent the better part of my childhood honing my craft on the pitch. The game is in our blood. Once every four years that blood boils with the fever. It will be far better for us all if you join with me and the rest of world in the passion for the cup. Go USA!