Wow! So the 2014 World Cup said goodbye – and with what a wave! Down here in Brazil we are still in shock and how would we not be? Losing was expected but 7×1 was murder. When Holland came along we pretty much didn’t care anymore. Lucky us.
What everyone was anxious to see, after Brazil was chewed up and spit out by Germany, was the battle they would thrive against Argentina – or rather by how much they would win. Tense, difficult game and a one goal saves all by a young, just out of the bench, Götze. You might have noticed that fighting for third place were two teams sponsored by Nike and up for first place – the champion of the world – were two of Adidas’ own; also Germany being their home. Call me paranoid but I find it strange.
Anyhow, Germany played beautifully and took home more than the Jules Rimet Cup, it also cashed in a nice amount of money. So did Argentina, Holland and Brazil along with other teams and a few athletes that outdid themselves – or so the people inside Fifa think but we can agree to disagree.
…the champion of the world…
All this titles and money puts the World Cup more and more into the category of game and less and less does it all resemble – well -sports. Actually as I watched Schweinsteiger bleeding from underneath his eye on that last winner takes all game, it actually confirmed my theory that the World Cup Fever has taken us to another level. As most stadiums are now called arenas, I have no doubts – we are watching gladiators more so than football athletes.
Let´s step back a bit though, I’m sure I’ve seen this happen before. You see, the word sport in English came from the old French word desport – meaning to pass time, to recreate and to feel pleasure – from the verb desporter – meaning to have fun, distract, play or more literally to take away or take out – as in the preoccupations in one´s head.
…sport has also always been about competition…
Of course, sport has also always been about competition, might it have been against another athlete, a fish or oneself, there was always something to be beat. All early civilizations were familiar with sports and games but it was the Greeks that took it to the next level. For the Greeks it was all about measuring one’s strength, agility and resistance along with a few mental attributes such as courage, discipline and consistency.
The Olympic games, held in Olympia, were organized for the athletes more so than for the public and winners won nothing but the Laurel Wreath crown; while also becoming heroes in the eyes of society as a bonus. Sports for the Greeks was about glory and honor. Hence where the expression “to win the laurels of victory”comes from. It were also the Greek, or more specifically Aristotle, that came up with the concept “healthy body, healthy mind”, when that was all that sports and games were all about.
…”healthy body, healthy mind”…
Then, along came the Romans. Rome conquered Greece and although the people of Rome were also fond of sports and games, they were even fonder of harsh competition and blood. With the Romans in power sport events were now organized having the enjoyment of the public as the main goal and athletes had to adapt to a more entertaining way of showing off their talents. They were still made into heroes at the end, strenght and courage were still needed but now they were on display. Sound familiar?
Winning was not an individual desire of overcoming something, someone or oneself anymore, it became a need; sometimes a desperate one. If we dare go farther back, sports and physical activities were first used for survival, like running from danger or at war. Cave men, then soldiers, would used certain games or sports to train and gain skill. More skill meant another day alive or a victory in a battle. The stronger men became alphas and a victory in a battle field also meant a nation’s superiority over another – perhaps a feeling Germany recently became acquainted with as far as football goes.
…it became a need; sometimes a desperate one…
Yet, all the way back into the present, as I drive around Brazil only to see so many of the construction sites promised to be done by the World Cup unfinished, as my stomach churns to the thought of all the taxes that Fifa was excused from paying, as I think of all the medication that kept some of the injured football stars of the field and as my mind flat lines trying to find a solution to eradicate corruption; I have to admit – though I’m not proud to – I had some fun. As for Germany, yes, its your turn to take home the illusion but as much as we all like to be fooled – Fifa is the only one winning at this game.