Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fair Weather in Johannesburg

Hi, I'm Jen, and I'm a fair weather soccer fan.

I only watch it when it's available in my native language on channels that I come across regularly.

The most experience I've had with soccer is playing it as a kid. At that time, I played it to hang out with my friends, to win, and to eat orange slices. All of the running was just too much for me, and watching teammates in the distance kicking the ball back and forth offered a perfect opportunity to pick flowers.

I don't know who is supposed to win in this World Cup, or who is supposed to dishonor their country with their terrible playing. I can't make any fun wagers, like this, because my ignorance makes me a liability to my family.

I can't tell you if a player is a native to the country he's playing for, how much experience he has head-butting the ball into the goal*, or if he can do any fancy leg-ball-kicky moves. I select favorite players based on their build, their attitude, and the brightness of their team's jersey.

The World Cup is very exciting. I truly enjoy watching it. Each goal is like witnessing a revolution, or the election of King of the Field. Other professional sports players can look just plain bored out there. Soccer players have soul (and dirty shoes).

I understand my inadequacy. I know that I must pay a price for being a fair weather fan, for generally ignoring the most popular sport in the world except when it crosses my path every four (4?!) years. I bring shame to my new Mexican heritage.

I hope to redeem myself this World Cup. I plan to learn more about the teams so I have some stake in the games. I plan to host soccer fans at my home; I hope that their passion and knowledge will rub off on me, and that my guacamole and steak burritos will soften their hearts enough to come. I plan to have my future children play lots of soccer, and make sure they do it for more than just free slices of fruit. I hope the soccer-loving world will forgive me, forsaking their right to stampede any field I should ever stand on.

Can you help me get out of this sad state and make me soccer savvy? I think my safety depends on it.

*Or head-butting people in general. Yeah, Zidane, I'm talking to you.

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