Life is but a series of small, short, yet significant, remembered moments. This summer will be filled with those prized snippets of life.
Today, children of all ages and from all corners of the earth have begun to dream in earnest about the feats they will begin to witness, in but a fortnight, upon the football pitches of the Brazilian cities of Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Cuiaba, Manaus, Natal, Curitiba, Recife, Porto Alegre, Fortaleza, Brasilia, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
In just two weeks the greatest collection of football players on the planet (save a few) will be plying their trades in South America. We will be delighted by the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Franck Ribery, Luka Modric, Chicharito, Samuel Eto’o, Alexis Sanchez, Robin van Persie, Andres Iniesta, Didier Drogba Carlos Bacca, Wayne Rooney, Luis Suarez, Mario Balotelli, Antonio Valencia, Mesut Ozil, Thibaut Courtois, and methinks, Landon Donovan, via some yet unheard of last minute happenstance.
Over a 31-day period, football supremacy will be contested and established. The culminating event, the conferring of the cup trophy itself, will augur the quadrennial global bragging rights of the World Champions. One star will be added above that team uniform’s crest, and for weeks or months we, the children of football, will relive those dreams turned reality (or dust) in an ever-present reel inside our heads. Some snippet of that reel may remain with us for life—such as Pele’s feign and miss against Uruguay, or Maradona’s fair goal against England, or Iniesta’s winner against the Dutch.
Many sports can claim a special culminating event such as the Olympics for running and swimming or the Super Bowl for American Football. But only one sport’s cup stops the global heartbeat, and only one can claim to do it each time players from as varied a background as those listed above put on their national uniforms this summer. Nothing compares to THE World Cup.
The most gifted of football players might participate in three or four such events in a lifetime. Each participant knows just how precious this opportunity is and how short-lived or immortal their acts might become. Some feats will remain in a single nation’s memory as an achievement of merit, but of only great consequence at home. Other instances will surpass that mark and provide reel snippets of lifetime joy across many socio-cultural-national lines. The cup is precious to many.
Some this summer will be watching their twelfth cup live (in person or on television) and will have seen tapes of the previous nineteen. Some have grown up as child-fans, youth-players, parent-coaches, mid-aged-club administrators, and yes, journalists of the sport. Some even count off their living days in terms of cups: coming into the world as one was contested and hoping, in some distant future, to depart as another culminates. Thus is the passion of the cup.
But above all other sentiments, there is this: for most who will watch those 64 matches, that cherished snippet will have a duality few experiences in life offer—an intimate, singular savoring of that which transcends for that individual, and the warm communal embrace the same memory will simultaneously confer upon billions of witnesses thousands of miles apart, but momentarily, living as one.
Here’s to our snippets.