This is typically the time of the year when I enter into my sports hibernation and patiently wait for the Fall kickoff of football and futbol. By the end of March Madness I’m already looking for a cave to spend my summer slumber. There’s just something about watching baseball that makes me want to gnaw my arm off. The problem with that is I’ve grown pretty fond of my arms. They’re useful. They help me drive my car, write this entry, but most importantly they bring food to my mouth. However, this summer there is a great escape for me.
While everyone this side of the Atlantic is talking about Big Brown (a race horse?!?!), the revival of the NBA Finals and the Yankees demise, Europe is undergoing the biggest international soccer tournament next to the World Cup: Euro 2008 and I couldn’t be giddier. Soccer was made for HD TV. Catch a game on ESPN 2. You won’t be disappointed by the sights and sounds of the players and especially the fans. And for whatever reason, every team appears to have borrowed the Phoenix Suns’ playbook and rather than bunkering down after taking a 1-0 lead, everyone is gunning to score relentlessly at every possession.
I think its difficult to grasp the magnitude of this tournament in America. We just have nothing like it. We have three major sports (football, basketball and baseball) that divide our hearts and attention, but there’s only soccer in Europe. Look at these pictures of some of their fans and these too. I remember being in China for the 2002 World Cup where it was China’s first appearance ever in the tournament. The entire country shut down anytime they were playing. All TVs were tuned to one channel and everyone was glued to it. (That was also probably the best time to go looting if you were into that sort of thing.) When was the last time, barring a catastrophe that had all of America shut down, united and cheering for their country?