Opening Day: Round of 16

Germany took Sweden apart in short order today; it wasn’t much of a game except for the performance of Sweden’s goalie, Isaksson (11 shots on goal were credited to the German side; he saved most of them with no help from his defenders). I recall a few games like that, when my defenders just couldn’t anticipate and left me alone to field more shots than anyone should ever have to face in one match. He played one hell of a game, even though it’s the Germans who gain all the attention. I admired Teddy Lucic‘s calm reaction to receiving a red card after two undeserved yellows.
There’s been some magic about the first ten minutes: Germany scores in the 4th and then the 12th minute, and later Mexico and Argentina both scored in the early minutes of their tense match. I wound up passionately on Mexico’s side even though I entered Delano’s with no preference whatsover. They were the identified underdog, for one thing. And the mostly international crowd was cheering for Argentina – or seemed to be. As the match wound on it became evident that the crowd was evenly split, which made for a great atmosphere: both in terms of fellow-fanship and also that everyone seemed to appreciate great plays by either team. (I heard there was a rabidly anti-Mexico contingent in “the back room” – watching Univision in order (apparently?) to pique their fervor to a maximum pitch.)

Jed filled me in on South Korea’s loss yesterday. “It was sad.” I conveyed my condolences to Gladys, who observed that all the Asian nations were out. (She included Saudi Arabia in her list, which surprised me: a different perspective on the dividing boundary, obviously.)
I said, “You can’t be everywhere all the time!”
Gladys responded, “But we want to be everywhere all the time!”
Meanwhile, Puru tried to make up for the gender battle by offering me a chair up front. When I declined, teasing him about being gentlemanly, Neil wasted no time at all occupying the empty seat. (Later, he bought me a beer: as compensation?) I got excited about the sports production angle near the end of regulation time when Argentina “scored” a goal with barely a minute left and the next visual was of the offsides flag. Scott – you’re still with me, man!
This engaged us in a brief conversation about the power/influence of making the decisions about which camera angle to broadcast – something which inevitably alters perception yet can also heighten engagement if done well. I was thinking the same earlier about the announcers trying desperately to create the illusion of a possibility for Sweden to rebound against Germany. Then we got into the artificiality of professional organization, a format which can “kill the human spirit.” Certainly it can, although (working upon Nietzsche) it could be that professional, organized sports really is a suitable substitute and outlet for aggression that historically would have to end in death. (Neitzsche seems to prefer that we had stayed that way, but I think that’s more a reaction to his awareness of living in a transitional time when the re-channeling of such vitality was still so deeply in process and the potential life-affirming outcomes only vaguely intuited.)
It is cool that Ghana made it; and somehow I’m going to have to resist watching every single match from here on out. Maybe I can allow myself an internet peek every now and then?

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