I know this because past midnight, on June 12, 2010, 12-year-old me was the only Spanish football fan in a room full of assorted non-believers and Dutch supporters. The only reason I’d picked Spain—well before the tournament, thank you very much—was because my football-watching friend told me to, and I trusted her to at least know more than I did. Not that that was saying much. Thereafter, I stuck fiercely to my guns, maybe a little because of David Villa’s face. Can you blame me?
In the 116th minute, it paid off. Spain was crowned the FIFA champions. I had watched my little brother shed real tears when Argentina lost to Germany. After the Netherlands took down Uruguay, I had heard classmates tell me my team was going down. And in the end, little old me emerged unscathed. Dignity: intact.
People will tell you the upcoming men’s World Cup is about football. It isn’t, really, and I say this partly because I forget the offside rule sometimes but also because I believe it. No international sports event is about just the game. Especially at quadrennial tournaments, it’s about the host country’s weird national pride that often leads to flagrant spending and terrible debt. It’s about the glitter and glitz, and all the laborers who are overworked and underpaid to bring you that glitter and glitz. It’s about the plucky underdog (Iceland? Peru? Senegal? Take your pick) and the team that’s looking to become back-to-back champs.
It’s about the drama. The World Cup is sweeping, epic storytelling about legacies and stakes and stars—Lionel Messi! Alex Morgan!—and scandals and cover-ups. It’s a performance. And if you’re lucky, you’ll switch off the final and feel terribly, obnoxiously smug. I know that, given the chance, I plan to be.
Stuti R. Telidevara ’20, a Crimson Blog Chair, is an English concentrator in Cabot House.