I believe it’s a well-accepted truism that to develop life-long fans of a sport, you need kids to grow up with it. My own experience certainly supports that notion.
While I played soccer as a kid, I didn’t have a local team to follow during the critical years where my tastes in sports formed. Yes, there were the Seattle Sounders–the original Sounders–but they didn’t start playing until I was eight, too late to have a chance at a central spot in the sport-related portion of my brain.
(It probably didn’t help that, while professional soccer in the US was a summer sport, the Seattle kids’ leagues played in the fall and winter, probably to avoid competing with baseball for space on the recreation center fields. Seattle Octobers are a miserable time to be wearing shorts while running up and down a muddy field.)
All of which is a long-winded way to say that I haven’t been following the World Cup beyond an occasional glance at the headlines in the Chron.
That being the case, I was, at most, mildly pleased to see Croatia boot Russia out of the competition, given the state of political relations between the two countries–and because it put a halt to the claims that Russia was advancing due to bribery, political influence, and general FIFA corruption.
Let’s be real here: given FIFA’s reputation, most people would find a team doing well solely because of their athletic prowess more surprising than otherwise.
And in a vague way, I was hoping for an England/France final. Considering the historical antagonism between the two countries, it could have been the first World Cup match played with crossbows.
But on the other hand, everyone loves an underdog, right? So it’s hard to be upset about Croatia playing for their first ever World Cup championship.
One does have to wonder what the viewer numbers will be like in England. Is the love of football stronger than the sting of elimination? And of those who tune in, how many will be rooting for their traditional rival and how many for the new villains on the block? It must be like a Bostonian watching the Yankees in the World Series.
No, I’m not going to watch. At 8am Sunday, I plan to be curled up in bed, warm and dry, with nary a rain cloud or mud puddle in sight.