Soccer and the Nationalism that Dribbles Alongside it

Its overtime and the score is still 1-1. Penalty kicks begin and your team misses the shot, you feel defeated, it’s been a game of over 102 minutes and you need this win. Second player shoots, he scores, you are back in the game, the hope starts to creep up again, you can do this, your team can win this game… last and final player shoots… he scores…. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!

The crowd goes WILD, you lose all sense of surroundings and get a little carried away in the yelling and screaming and jumping up and down and more screaming. And then tears… so many tears. Tears filled with joy, filled with pride, filled with hope. 

For some soccer is just a game, but for most European countries, especially in some of the rural parts, soccer signifies so much more, soccer equates to hope and an awakening of imagination and dreams amongst the younger generation and is a feeling trickled down from generations amongst generations.

Growing up in Calabria, Southern Italy, soccer was EVERYTHING! Images of Roberto Baggio (a very famous soccer player for Italy back in my day) adorned my bedroom, conversations about the game buzzed through the town on a game day and bars were PACKED for the games with fans so loyal the actual town seemed to shut down to watch their beloved team play.

Imagine a day filled with such heavy work from sunup to sun down, imagine not having the hopes and dreams that are instilled in so many of us young Americans where we are pushed to reach for the stars and worse case we will land on the moon. Imagine the only thing to look forward to is a soccer game where you know you can sit alongside family and friends and follow your favorite player that you have perhaps idolized since a child.

Soccer, and really sports in general, have the ability to ignite such an array of emotions and feelings such as hope for children that may not have the privilege to participate in sports or for some they can kindle up nostalgia for past games and mostly, with sports, you will find a deep rooted sense of Nationalism, a colossal sense of pride in your country. To win a Euro Cup or a World Cup means a place at the adult table, a spotlight, even just for the day, it means we are good at this, we can do this ONE thing really well and we are proud.

If you ever want to see the meaning of sports expressed on someone’s face, watch the crowd at a world cup final. Some are turned with such utter fear of losing that they would rather not watch the game, some are crying, some are chewing on their nails… it’s actually fascinating to watch the expression of emotion on both the fans and the player’s faces during the game. And even though this Fan’s life tomorrow will not be changed or affected in the slightest way based on the game’s results, in this very moment in time, the consensus is that this is the utter most important thing in their life and is all that matters.

So next time you find yourself near a passionate super fan of any sport, know that they are not only rooting for the game, but they might be rooting for their land, their long lost memories, and most likely they are rooting for the team that holds their heart and reminds them of home.

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It just happens that as I write this article my team is in the Euro Cup playing this weekend SO i thought it would be fun to throw a little soccer viewing party at my house knowing full well that most likely I will be the only one actually WATCHING the game! Here are a few of my favorite things I will have this weekend!

Plasticware & Plates

Keep Kids Occupied

Food Trays

Popcorn Trays

Sugar Cookies

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