Soccer….Family Style

FC København – Brøndby 2014 – TIFO is just brilliant
May 5, 2014, 3:07 pm
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I love complicated tifo. Complicated tifo of blowing things up….it’ll make your Monday.

33 Years Later – Do You Believe in Miracles?
February 22, 2013, 4:06 pm
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Several of my soccer friends are also hockey fans, and while I can’t appreciate how many Miracle players ended up playing for the Bruins (alas, too many of them are also from Boston, but I try not to hold it against them) it did get me thinking about this game and what it meant in my own world.

I was an eight year old kid the day the US played Russia in the Olympics in the game affectionately nicknamed “the Miracle on Ice.”  I was the daughter of a stay-at-home mom with a Masters in Education and a PhD research Chemist, so we had lots of talks about politics, science, and other geeky pursuits, and I was a bit of a tomboy. There were lots of boys my age on my block, and my Dad, not having any sons, taught me to play ball, fish, and to rotate tires. But my favorite thing to do with my Dad was watching sports. He would spend hours talking to me about various players, and intricacies of rules, it was probably the most concentrated extended attention I got from my Dad.

Of all the memories of all the games I ever watched with my Dad, the Miracle on Ice is the clearest. He had explained to me the political ramifications of the game, and as we watched it together, me laying on my belly, chin propped up on my fists. He became more and more agitated and excited as the game went on, and I was riveted. My father is a very intense man, but I’d never seen him so passionate about any game before in my life. And the more excited he became, the greater my need to understand what this game meant to him. This wasn’t “his” team, and it wasn’t even the medal match. My eight year old mind could barely fathom how this game could be so important to him, but as the minutes clicked off, I had to suspend reason and just enjoy watching history made, next to my Dad sitting on the edge of his big green recliner.

I’d like to think that February 22, 1980 was the first step on my path to becoming a soccer supporter. My father was so happy that day, and watching it was powerful enough to lock in a lifelong love of sports and national team. It allows me to cheer for the underdog, and gives me faith that one day, despite the US being decades if not centuries behind in love of soccer, one day, there will be the miracle on the pitch and my kids will watch me lose my mind over a World Cup final. It will probably never be the political laced sporting achievement that the Miracle on Ice was, but it will probably be enough outpouring of joy to make them sports fans for life.

What I’ve Learned About Traveling to the World Cup
May 31, 2010, 3:47 pm
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I’ve spent the last 16 years of my life following the US Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNT). As we prepare to travel to our 5th Men’s World Cup in South Africa, my husband and I have been comparing notes on what we’ve learned from our travels. Here’s a summary:

1994: The USA World Cup

This was the World Cup that started it all: where we decided we never wanted to miss a World Cup ever again. We were pretty new, but we picked up a few ideas here:

* Go with the most fun people you can find, or meet fun people while you’re there. You’ll have more fun with other fun people. Go early and look for the supporters tailgate. Introduce yourself to the people around you. Have fun.

*Get a hotel room. Our first game we could have had so much more fun if we’d sprung for a hotel room and stayed for the after party. Half the fun is the party afterward.

1998: The France Coupe de Monde

*Don’t wear face paint. OK, I’m just kidding. It’s just that the one time we wore face paint, we got mugged and had our tickets stolen. So really what I’m saying is, you’re allowed to be as superstitious as you want. If you feel like you have to wear the exact same thing the same way to every game, you go right ahead. Just as long as I don’t have to face paint again.

*It’s the world cup, even if thing go horribly wrong, they can still end up pretty great. Best story of the tournament followed getting mugged. We met these crazy police officers who got us into the super secret police headquarters at the stadium (PS don’t pick your nose in the stadium…they’re watching you). We had a far better time because we got mugged and were able to keep a positive attitude. No matter what, keep your head up and look for your next adventure.
*Book hotels in advance, even if you don’t think you’ll stay. Our last night in France, we’d planned on leaving our luggage at the train station in a locker, and then taking the train back to Paris that night. Only problem: the lockers were closed because of the security risk. It took 4 hours to find a hotel that wasn’t booked!

2002: Korea World Cup

*When giving quotes outside the stadium to foreign press, do it with a straight face. It’s the World Cup, crazy stuff can happen. Figo was the #1 FIFA player in the world. Who would have guessed Jeff Agoos would score more goals than Figo?
*The further away the world cup, the more psycho the fans. Yes, it’s expensive to travel halfway around the world. But the people who do are the best in the world. Get ready to make friends for life.
*Respect the local culture, until you just need to cross the street, then your expanding their horizons. Experience the local culture. Try new foods. Be respectful. But when there’s one traffic cop and 100+ fans and the road is closed, it’s OK to cross against the light, even if doing so is completely NOT Korean.

2006: Germany Weltmeisterschaft

*I am truly sorry if you wanted tickets and couldn’t get them, but we brought our 3-1/2 year old daughter and FIFA makes you buy a ticket from all children. Even a 3 year old can and did sleep through at least half of every game.
*The barter system is a beautiful thing. We tried to get US vs Italy tickets every way we could. In the end, we traded 2 of our Germany vs. Ecuador for 2 US vs. Italy tickets with a German who was as thrilled as we were with the trade.

Tune in starting June 12th for the lessons of 2010: South Africa.

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