1998 World Cup Final
Every World Cup has moments that you remember. No necessarily the greatest goals or the best players, but the moments when you felt the World Cup become part of your personal history. Your life gets broken up into 4 year blocks as you recall where you were and what you were doing in 2006, 2002, 1998, 1994, 1990.... I realized, thinking back, that 2010 will be the first time I've watched the World Cup in the US since 1998.
Back then I was a graduate student and a Brazilian friend of mine set up bleachers and a big screen TV in his back yard with an open invitation to anyone to come by and watch any game, any time. Some games had‚ a hundred‚ people cramming onto the bleachers, others just a handful. I remember being in a "crowd" of 3, early one morning watching Scotland's 1-1 draw with Norway, a match that few others will remember (or even care to!).
I remember‚ our Brazilian host, Andre, diving into his kids' backyard pool after defeating the Dutch in a penalty shoot-out in the semi-final, and emerging with blood streaming down his face from a cut on his forehead, a timely reminder to all that diving head first into 2 inches of water is not a sensible thing to do under any circumstances, even after winning a World Cup semi-final!
I remember the terrible ABC announcers explaining that Italy were eliminated because they did not "love the game" as much as their French opponents.
I remember taking a photograph of the TV screen to send to my father in Scotland when ABC highlighted the penalty area in red and the announcers began babbling about successful plays in "soccer's red zone."
Most of all, I remember the camaraderie of watching soccer with friends from all over the world.
That's what the World Cup is; a merging of soccer, friendship and shared experiences that become part of your life and your memories.‚ 2010 will be no different. I'm planning to go to Daley Plaza at 9am on June 11th for Mexico v. South Africa and then‚ watch England v. USA on June 12th in a bar with my friends.‚ These and other days will add World Cup 2010 to my memories of games watched on TV over the years in many places‚ with people, like Andre, who‚ I may never see again,‚ but remember fondly every 4 years, as part of‚ my own World Cup memories.