It didn’t help that we stayed out until 8am that morning and only got two hours of sleep, but how many times were we going to be in Berlin to watch Germany play for a World Cup title? We made a bedraggled little quartet, a bit damp from the afternoon downpour, wedged into a nook of the bar as much by exhaustion as by determination. We ordered beers and waited for the game to begin.
I love the World Cup, though I don’t follow any football leagues during the rest of the four-year cycle. I owe this partially to my English father and childhood summers in Europe, but I think also to my fascination with sports fandom. I grew up in the heart of North Carolina, a region in which you are often defined by your college basketball allegiance (mine is Duke, the only acceptable option). Basketball agnosticism is not an option when you live in the eight mile stretch between Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium and UNC’s Dean Dome, even if you don’t actually like basketball. I remember being astounded when I went to college and met people who had never been a sports fan of any sort and did not seem to find their lives emotionally deficient. (more…)