Final Match

The World Cup Final is tomorrow, which still feels weird given that it’s, y’know, December and not July. There are a lot of other regular things going on right now and slipping the World Cup in feels odd. Of course, there’s a reason for that, and that reason is, put quickly, one of corruption and bribery that’s resulted in a lot of suffering. It’s a real crap situation, especially because, as ever, the World Cup is fantastic.

I’m not a sports person; the World Cup is about the only time I ever get into them in any way. But it’s consistently a great thing to watch and that might just be for the accessibility of it all. The teams in the tournament are countries, not clubs; my arbitrary support is drawn around national lines rather than having to pick a club. Plus, it’s all there. Maybe this is more a sign of me not going down any actual sports rabbit holes to try and learn what’s going on there, but maybe that accessibility is what makes it work for me. I don’t need to know much about relegation or who plays who to make whatever happen, it’s as simple as “France and Argentina play the finals.”

Then, of course, it’s football. Or soccer, either way, the game is a sport that I actually like. The constant action of it plays out like a dance that I can’t help but enjoy. It’s also far simpler than American football or baseball, meaning that it’s easier for me to appreciate it in the moment. And appreciate it I do! I may not know much about the philosophy/technique/playstyles of the sport (though I do enjoy learning about it), but I can still be awed at the grace Mbappé dribbles with.

Nestled into it all are the stories of the World Cup. This year we got to see England and France revisit the Hundred Years War (to similar results) and watch Morocco outplay first Spain then Portugal, establishing themselves as rulers of the Iberian peninsula. It’s fun stuff, even if some of it is stuff I’ve made up. But even tomorrow’s finals are two stories going head to head. Can France become the first country to win two World Cups in a row in the modern era? Can Messi, arguably the best football player in the world, finally win a World Cup? These are, as they say in storytelling, stakes. There’s some investment there because it’s interesting!

Football (soccer) is a beautiful game and I love watching it, just probably not enough to get really into it.  After tomorrow I probably won’t give much of a rip about football (soccer) until the next World Cup (maybe this will be the time I finally get into the Women’s World Cup too!). In the meantime, though, I’m really looking forward to the next season of Ted Lasso.

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