Thursday, June 17, 2010

World Cup

In the spirit of my friend Kristen's project I'm going to share my own new experience for today.  My friend Kristen is currently doing one brand new thing a day, every day, for one year.  So far she's almost at the half way mark and she is well on her way to 365 new experiences (read more about it at  I'm not going for even close to that many, but today was pretty special.

What does this new experience have to do with the World Cup you ask?  Well, I can honestly say this is the first time in my life I've ever been into a sports game.  That's right, I'm American, from the land of basketball and football, and I even went to U of M who has a fierce rivalry with OSU.  I gotta say though, ever since I was a kid, I've been ambivalent to just about all sports.  Basketball?  Repetitive.  Baseball?  Too slow.  Hockey?  Yawn.  I was the curiosity of all the neighbors and my family, when sports season rolled around and I showed little to no interest.  Sure, my mom is not into sports at all, but you'd think I'd at least pick up a passing interest in sports with all the hysteria surrounding local teams.  My uncle was, and still is, a Lions fanatic, and my aunts love the Pistons while I never even knew the names of the players on the teams.  This also means I've never been emotionally invested in whether or not a team wins or loses.  I went to one Wolverine's game, and I know I am an alumni and I will be lectured on this sternly (and deservedly) by U of M fans, but I totally did not care if our team won or lost.  I couldn't understand what made everyone around me scream and shout at the top of their lungs, or what compelled a 5 foot 2 asian girl to yell "Rip their F#@$#@$ing heads off!" 

Today that changed.  I went to a bar called Exit which is popular among expats here with my coworker Emily and we sat down and watched Korea vs. Argentina.  People in the bar were sporting red colored shirts and jerseys with "Fighting Korea!" and "Let's go Korea" emblazoned on the back.  There was electricity in the air and I could actually feel it.  I felt relaxed enough to yell when the Korean team came close to scoring a goal, and it felt fun to mock the Argentinian team as best I could.  Their coach is a mafioso, I swear it.  When Korea scored I actually lept up out of my seat and started yelling and joining in with the rest of the bar singing 'Taehan Minguk!!" (Republic of Korea).  It felt like a rollercoaster when the ball got close to our side of the field (notice how I'm starting to use words like we and our), and even laugh when Emily told me she wants to have the Korean Goalkeeper's children.  When the Argentinians scored their 3rd goal and Korea's loss was pretty much assured, I felt just as bad as everyone else and felt just as deflated, as if the life was sucked out of the room.  We went back home in a ... I don't know what the word for this mood is.  Disappointed, but in a sportsmanlike way?   Like I said, these are all new feelings for me.

I guess this sounds selfish, but I've never blended easily into groups and I definitely have never strongly felt any emotion linked to being in a large group of people.  The force that makes people do the wave or jingle their keys in large stadiums usually just whizzes right over my head.  When people get in a funk over a loss I just look at them like they're agonizing over spilled milk.  Now, I understand what that feeling is like, to be a part of the group and to want the group to win just because you're a part of it.  Sure I'm not Korean and soccer isn't exactly big in America, but I live and work here, they give me income, and I'm part of the community, so of course I want to show my support.  Feeling like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle where I firmly fit into my nice strangely shaped spot just felt....good.