So I’m driving home from my job when the smartphone next to me starts beeping and bouncing around with the ESPN jingle. Like Pavlov’s dogs I respond.
Belgium 1 USA nil.
I frown but realize it’s overtime.
I drive on. A bit faster now and my phone jingles again. I’m becoming somewhat anxious.
Belgium 2 USA nil.
Now I’m upset and start talking to the device as if it will somehow transmit my voice to the pitch in Brazil. C’mon boys. Score, why dontcha? My fellow drivers are looking equally withered and somewhat unfocused. I imagine they are listening to the radio broadcast of the game. But I don’t search for it. I just press on the gas and urge my four cylinders to chug harder.
Then suddenly a ray of hope. >jingle< Belgium 2 USA 1.
Now I'm elated. Hopeful. Ready to take on the world. Hype even. I wave my fist around and shout. Not too loudly now. I'd hate to unnerve someone. So instead I call my family and ask them if the game is on. They say yes. I ask the score. They say it's on delay so it's still early in the extra period. At this point I realize I'm only going to ruin them or myself if I share what I've already been told. So I hush up and gun the engine. It cries in pain but goes three miles per hour faster. I'm rocketing down the highway at a blazing 62 mph now!
My phone chimes again but I refuse to look. I now must see what my family sees. I must experience it with them. I realize I now actually care about the results. I feel very much like I did when I first heard of Olympic curling. I laughed hard at the so called sport. And changed the channel. Then the next time it was on television I sneered at it with disdainful indifference. And changed the channel. The next time I saw it I paused and smiled with a chuckle. But let the channel alone. The last time I searched the listings and taped the entire match and shouted with glee when the stone curled like a 1970's hairstyle.
I'd become a fan of a sport I knew nothing about and only see once every four years.
And I'd just done it again with fútbol. And I knew I was in trouble. Because I had just become a Johnny come lately fan of the worlds game. I had just done a superman belly flopping leap onto the bandwagon and wasn't embarrassed by it. I was ready to go to work and complain about the tackles, the missed shots on goal, the lost opportunities. The goalie. Oh the goalie with record breaking saves. Go Hamilton.
But I digress. I have just gotten into trouble. Because now I've added a sport to my lexicon and it was small as my home states pro league offerings. But now it had just become global. And I had chosen sides. And now when I decide to travel, I may just have become a target. Not of terrorists. But of rabid sports fans who do not like American fútbol because Americans are thieves of other countries players too. Just like the other teams are. But it's different because we are Americans.
Yep. I'm in trouble alright. But not for four years because when I got home I learned along with the rest of the planet that we were eliminated.
Oh well. There's always next time. And when next time rolls around I just might have a jersey or jacket on supporting the home team.
Go USA. You done good.
Maybe next time we get to okay Mexico too. That'd be great game , I'm sure.