I went to bed worrying about something new last tonight. It is because I watched some soccer on television yesterday.
The game I watched was (of course) the World Cup semi-final match between Brazil and Germany.
Brazil, as practically everyone in the world knows, is the host country of the FIFA World Cup 2014 this summer. Brazil is a country whose national passion is football (soccer), and pride in their team is like an obsession. Brazil has won the World Cup five times, and is the only country to have done so. Pele, Ronaldo, and Rivaldo are legendary Brazilian players. Their names are known around the world and fall easily from every young players lips. Pride in their team and the sport of soccer (futebol) seems to have been in-bred in all of the natives of Brazil.
Twenty-nine minutes into the 90 minute game yesterday, the score was 0-5, for Germany. That is a LOT of goals when talking about soccer. The Brazilian fans became crestfallen, tears were streaming down many of their faces. The German team is very strong and very good. The Brazilian team was playing with a disadvantage, as they were missing two of their best players - one who fractured a vertebrae in a previous game, and their captain who had been suspended from the match because of two yellow cards. The T.V. commentators were merciless, commenting on everything from their disgust over the teamwork and skill of the Brazilians, to how humiliating it was for the players. I was tempted to turn the sound off so I didn't have to hear any more of what they were saying. Even German fans, though excited for the records being broken by their team, might have been uncomfortable watching it unfold. I thought it was a horrible game.
The match was expected to be tough - but no one anticipated the score. I don't know enough about soccer to really pass judgement on how well Brazil played, but the general consensus seems to be "not well." Fortunately, Brazil prevented a shut-out by making one goal in the last few minutes, but the final score was 1-7. The result: elated Germans and a devastated host country. I couldn't bear to watch the television coverage of the defeated Brazilian players, as their loss sunk in.
It is these men - the team from Brazil - that I was worrying about last night. I hope that they can put this experience in perspective, and not be too hard on themselves. Their level of performance may not have been as expected; perhaps it is even appropriate for them to feel badly about this. But all of them have had soccer careers of which, up to this point, they should be very proud. It is not easy to be selected for a spot on a World Cup team.
I hope the nation of Brazil can recognize their players grief, and support rather than criticize them. I hope the players will realize that no matter the importance associated with this sporting event, it is not the most significant part of their lives. I hope they can shake yesterday off; get up a little less heart-broken today (or maybe a week from today), and be ready to try and possibly fail at something else again. I hope the Brazil fans can accept this loss, and enjoy the rest of the World Cup festivities, for which they have worked so hard to prepare. I hope we can all remember that the purpose of sports is to build character, not destroy it. I hope all of this because, after all, the World Cup is just a sporting event. Unfortunately, someone always has to lose.
More from living