After watching a handful of World Cup matches and a brief stint watching the Greek games during the European Championship I've learned one thing about soccer (ok, football) - it usually doesn't really get interesting until the last five minutes of a game, but then, it really gets interesting.
Still, not being a hard line soccer fan and feeling a bit lukewarm on the whole who to root for front, I find myself, from time to time, on the side of the underdog. Take last night's match between Germany and Poland, for example. Poland lost their first game so really, they had to win to have a shot at this whole thing. The game was 0-0 until the extra time, when at 91 minutes (I think it was) Germany scored, and ultimately won the game. I felt really bad for Poland at that point, because they were playing their little hearts out and you could see how much they wanted to win in their cute little faces. Sure, at times the Polish players showed some questionably unsportsmanlike behavior on the field, but I attribute that to their extreme desire to win. Obviously, it didn't help them.
Fast forward to tonight's game between Sweden and Paraguay. Both teams lost their first games. Both teams really wanted to win. It was a draw up until the 89 minute mark, when the Swedish guy used his sweet little bald head to bounce that ball right into a game winning goal. The Swedish team was so happy, and I felt happy with them. But then I saw the exhausted and defeated faces of the Paraguay (Paraguain? Paraguigian?) team, and felt really, really bad for them, which totally overshadowed the happiness I had felt a minute before for the Swedes.
Honestly, I don't know if I can keep this up. Sure, you can throw one of those cheesy catch phrases at me - "everyone at the World Cup is a winner!" but that doesn't really make me feel any better for the losing teams. I just think about how much hope every participant has going into this thing and how horrible it is to get dashed, one by one, as the time goes on. It is hard to be humane in the world of competitive sports.
But who knows, by the time this whole thing is over, I may be rooting hard core for one team over another. We shall see.