After 47 months of “slow news days” the 2010 FIFA World Cup has arrived. As the lucky member of the Tickle City Award Committee chosen to attend on its behalf, I was fortunate enough to experience the mania first-hand, and there is little else like it.
Some sports have crazy athletes such as boxing or professional wrestling. Many sporting events claim to have insane fans, including March Madness, Super Bowl Fever, or World Series Syphilitic Dementia. While these sports and events are spectacles, nothing compares to the absolute hysteria associated with the World Cup. The coach of Slovakia wanted to fight a reporter, a star French player, Nico Anelka, called their coach’s mother a whore, and in this committee member’s favorite incident the entire French team refused to practice and instead sat on their bus pouting.
Although there is incredible lunacy amongst the players and coaches, the ultimate example of World Cup Mania is the fans. Blowing the native South African vuvuzela in the color of their nation’s flags, these fans come out in droves to show their national pride. While undoubtedly exciting, the World Cup is a month of emotional ups and downs, with fans smiling, screaming, cheering, and for almost all of them, ultimately crying.
What makes this fanatacism so crazy is the combination of hope and hopelessness that resides in all fans. Every Englishman believes England are going to win the World Cup and yet that they will lose each and every match. The Italians, despite being eliminated, are still expecting to win. The Americans are firmly under the belief that Landon Donavan is the next Messi and that they will win the championship, but are fully aware that there is no chance they can beat the likes of Brazil and Argentina, Spain, or Germany consistently. Eventually, almost all fans end their World Cups in heartbreak, but in four years all that heartbreak will have been replaced by optimism wrapped in pessimism. World Cup Fan Mania, you are tickle city!
By Mark Rosenberg