I just had one of the most cathartic experiences of my life. Well, perhaps that is an overstatement but it was pretty @#$%ing awesome!
In a cramped little dining room in the middle of Southeast Asia, for a brief moment, Team America had the hearts and minds of a 100+ American refugees. And, for the most part, it really did not matter if they were a soccer fan, everyone watched with baited breath as America beat Algeria and, even if only for a moment, were converted.
And I’m not just talking about, the kind of “well, that’s nice we won” conversion. I’m talking about the out of their chairs, screaming at the television, fanatical type of conversion – one that could rival any evangelical. And I guess what makes me take such a stock in this excitement is not the fact that America has struggle for years to gain recognition in the soccer community or the fact that I spent so much of my own life worshipping the game, but that for 90 minutes, our little group of expats escaped the fact that we were thousands of miles away from our families and friends, heading into lion’s den where people are intent on killing us.
To me, this is the chief purpose of things such as the World Cup. Sports – competition – above all things, has the ability to unite people across a spectrum of backgrounds unlike anything else and forget the differences between them. That to me is a marvel in itself. That sports, more specifically soccer, have succeeded in fusing us where so many other policies and programs have failed will always stand as a testament of what we are capable of as a human race. This is what makes my eyes well up with tears. I wish you all could have been here to experience it with me.