The World Cup begins in ten days with the match between South Africa and Mexico. For the first time in my life, I care. Three different blog posts on the sport in the past months may have suggested this. I know the schedule and will be watching games. I don't know what games the Indonesian channels will broadcast, but I will watch games, be they Ghana and Serbia or be they North Korea and Portugal.
Now I am presented with a dilemma: for whom should I cheer?
The obvious choice would be the United States. It is, afterall, my home nation. But it's not so simple. I don't like cheering for winners. I didn't like the Bulls when Michael Jordan played with them, I didn't like the Cowboys in the early 90's or the Patriots in the early 00's, I've never liked the Yankees, Manchester United is quickly moving up my list of despised franchises, and I can imagine nothing more boring than an NBA Finals culminating in a best of seven between the Lakers and Celtics who together have more than half of all the championship trophies. Where is the fun, the excitement, the satisfaction in cheering for a team whom everyone expects to win and the headlines the next day exclaim that it's their first championship of the decade?
On the face of it, the States wouldn't appear to break this rule. No one expects them to win. They should be able to get out of their group, but anything more than that is going to be overachieving. The difficulty is that the States are too good at every other sport. That America is always among the top three nations for medal counts in any Olympics is a little gross to me, so why should I cheer for their dominance in yet another competition? It's alright to cheer for Canada in hockey and Indonesia in badminton because that's all they have going for them, but does the United States really need another trophy to demonstrate how collectively awesome it is? It doesn't help either that their uniforms make them look like pageant models.
My second choice would be Germany for the family and for having lived there, but how much better of a choice are they than the United States on these criteria? Though they may not top the Olympic medal counts, they are always near the top, and they actually have World Cup championships in their history. At least Adidas can design a good jersey.
So who's left? Not terribly much. New Zealand is just too trendy, but I do appreciate that their nickname is the All Whites, a nice complement to their All Blacks. I can feel like I belong with that team. I guess I could swing for Greece for Demetra and since they really need something to be proud of after dragging down the euro, but I kind of want to cheer for an African nation. I would like to go for South Africa, but I would also like to have a pony in it past the group stages. Can't go for Nigeria after they, along with Tunisia and Mozambique, slapped around Kenya in the qualifying stages. I could go for an East African nation, but that's not happening for another decade or two.
By the admittedly weak criteria of best team names and jerseys, the only choice is the Ivory Coast. Their jerseys are a brilliant orange, and there's an elephant on their right shoulder. The team name, the Elephants, stomps all over Les Bleus or Die Mannschaft. That is a lot of awesome. Unfortunately, they are captained by Didier Drogba, a highly unpleasant man.
I've got nothing. Oh well. Here's to South Africa advancing to the knock-out stages, to France crashing and burning for their handball and child prostitution scandal, to New Zealand living up to everyone's hopes, to a new nation taking the World Cup and to a little excitement in the tournament.
2 years ago