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June 14, 2010 / Melissa Leeanne

The World Cup

I did not give a damn about soccer until June of 2006 and after the world cup concluded that year, I returned to my natural state of not caring about soccer.  If you know anything at all about professional soccer, you might understand how my interest in the sport developed:  I was living in Germany when they hosted the 2006 Weltmeisterschaft.

It was impossible to not care.  Every television set in Heidelberg, where I was living, was tuned to a station showing the World Cup games.  I watched games in pubs, outdoors at the university square, in passing while waiting for trains, and on my roommate’s television.  I was hooked and I can only conclude that enthusiasm is highly contagious.

Once the cup came to an end, I tucked my interest away in a box in the attic and thought nothing more of it.  Until now.  Four years later I am organizing viewing events for games and singing along to Sportfreunde Stiller’s hopeful pop song about another big win for Germany.

It’s not the same.  The games are at odd hours with South Africa hosting and Americans hardly care about soccer.  I won’t be painting my face, the streets will not be crowded with ecstatic crowds after a win, and I will not be talking about the most recent game with every person I meet.  I won’t be arguing that Michael Ballack is far more attractive than Cristiano Ronaldo, I will not be discussing the number of yellow cards thrown in a particularly messy match, and I will not be gasping at the audacity of Zinedine Zidane head butting an opposing player.

It will never be the same.  I had lived in Germany for almost a full year when the World Cup took place.  Germany loves soccer in a way that America never will, they were hosting that year, and they had a fantastic team.  I had the opportunity to share in a fervor that I may never have otherwise experienced and which I will most likely never experience again.  Watching the World Cup this year, I feel nostalgic for that year, for those few weeks.

I am rooting for Germany.  It’s terribly unpatriotic of me to hope that a foreign country will reign supreme over my homeland, but I have never fit the current American standard for patriotism.  I wish that my country felt most proud when hosting an international event, playing well as a team as Germany did in 2006.  Instead, patriotic Americans are proud to be Americans.  A fat lot of talent that takes…

* I almost called it football but I didn’t want to be quite that pretentious.

* It takes a considerable amount of effort to become a naturalized American citizen as an immigrant.

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