Remembering the Cosmos

So, today is the big day for the World Cup.  Personally, I’m torn as to who should win.  At the level of culture, I favor the Spanish over the Dutch; at the level of sports, the opposite.  I’ve talked at great length with expat acquaintances in the Benelux about the arrogance of the Dutch and the honor of the Spanish as cultures, and their pragmatism and formalism as teams, respectively.

Well, Paul the psychic octopus has predicted a win for the Spanish, and with an 80% accuracy so far, perhaps the sports gods have made their decision.  Can the Dutch defy the heavens as they have defied the seas?  We’ll find out in a few hours…

But on a different note, several of my European colleagues have been surprised to discover in me an American who is relatively conversant in football — indeed, who prefers to refer to it by its proper name and not “soccer”.  The reason goes back to 1994, when the World Cup came to the United States and it seemed as if the whole world descended upon my home, and most of all to my father, who was an avid fan of the New York Cosmos and would regale me with team memorabilia and stories of watching Pelé play (albeit past his prime). Consequently, I was fascinated by the sport as a child.

Besides, let’s face it: compared to baseball, the drollness of which is rivaled only by golf, and basketball, which was much too indoors for my liking, football is much more dynamic to watch, both as a child and an adult.  American football could be just as dynamic, but it’s become much too bogged down by technicalities — a threat increasingly looming over football, by the way.  Also, I could play both kinds of football, which is very important for a child to be able to identify with a sport.

As to hockey, my mother was a big fan of the sport, and it’s about as dynamic as it comes, but I never watched it enough growing up.  Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to my dear friends Karl and Tony debate its history and players back when we used to live together in Philly.  What impressed me the most was that of all the American sports, which are, like the nation, very inward-looking, hockey was always very international-minded.  It made for a very different outlook among both its fans and players.

Anyway, I think in the end I’m going to root for both teams today.  The Spanish are glorious to watch and the Dutch are just fun, and it’s about time that they both finally made it the finals.  Hup hup to them both!

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4 thoughts on “Remembering the Cosmos

  1. Do you recall my telling you how in 1977 I was awed watching Pele pass to himself? I have never since seen anyone do that as successfully. To make it more impressive, he was usually smiling while he did it. I never saw him complain to a referee nor have a harsh word with another player.
    The only thing was that he’d only come into a game pretty well along, and he wouldn’t stay in very long either. Ernest

    • Hi! No, I don’t remember that one, but wow indeed! Such was Pele. ;-) But he bowed out so early because of his age. The Cosmos were also a bit of an exhibition team, too. :-p By the way, did you see them in Yankee Stadium?

      • No, they played at Giants Stadium at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. That was when I owned the Lancia HPE, which I proudly parked at Giants Stadium in a special reserved area for season parking, right by where the players parked. And, of course, there were the Italian players who admired the car. The problem was that the Lancia would easily overheat, one of its generic problems, and so often my trips home were horrible, when I’d have to park on the side several times during the long approach to the Geo. Wash. Bridge ion heavy traffic. I became friendly with one Cosmos in particular, “Bogie” Bogichivich, a Yugoslav as I recall. We shared the same barber on Madison Avenue. Remember, my seats were right on what = the 50 yard line, in the center of the field, and in the first row, so there was easily visual, occasionally verbal contact with the players. … The Cosmos ticket mgr., Dieter Sayle, was a customer of mine, which was how I got such great seats. Except for a NJ high school teacher/soccer coach on my left, virtually everyone around me was European or South American. Dad

  2. I typically choose the poorer country as the winner as I think borders and divisions are just silly constructs of our imagination. I’d just rather see the poorer country’s people become uplifted in spirit from the win.

    I enjoy examining the cultural effects of sports more than I’ve ever cared about who won or lost. The hooligans, the vuvuzelas, the firing off of guns in celebration, the riots, the competition, people’s reasoning behind their picks.

    And for once, something that every single country in this world comes together for and can agree on.

    Also, who are we to argue with a psychic octopus?

    This leaves me to wonder:
    Is it that the octopus is psychic, or is it that his prediction sank deep into the psyche of the Dutch?

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