As we speed towards the end of the school year, the NBA playoffs are down to only one second round series left to be decided, which has given me time to look towards the sporting future, in particular, next month’s World Cup.
The World Cup is something I have done little to no research for – and I don’t plan on changing that – yet when it arrives I know I should be paying attention. I was fortunate enough to be in Europe during the 2002 World Cup, traveling with a group of students, and after the trip I felt like I had to watch the next time it came around. This event completely envelops everyone’s life, nobody talks about anything else while it’s going on and if you can’t join in a conversation, then you sir, are an idiot.
The United States would make a surprising run into the quarterfinals that year (yes, I had to look that up) and I do remember anyone we met on the British Isles would say how surprised they were and how happy we must be. I think all we could muster in return was a half-hearted “yeah, go America!” or something like that. It wasn’t a big deal at the time, and the U.S. didn’t fare so well in the 2006 World Cup, finishing last in their group. Maybe that’s why now that it’s almost here again, I still can’t get that excited, even though I know I should’ve opened my eyes by now.
The other reason for this World Cup story is that it coincides with what else has been happening these past four years: the near-completion of my time here at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. In between the last World Cup and next month’s, I have scores of memories of this place, some fuzzier than others, most invaluable, and made and maintained friendships that will make me smile and laugh to myself in public areas at random points in the future for a long time. In short, these last four years have been pretty close to perfect.
During that time I’ve only had to concern myself with the things I wanted to. Sure, I could stop in and say ‘hi’ to different things, like the Olympics for a fortnight or that one time I wanted to be a Web and Digital Media Development major, but I could always regress back to my mean and go back to what I knew, or wanted to know, like the NBA playoffs, or what should I do this weekend?
That’s why this year and this World Cup are different: as a sophisticated sports fan (or just someone who follows sports, actually), I know I should be excited about it, that it’s probably the biggest sporting event in the world and that I should be treating it like the big deal that it is. I shouldn’t have to act as if I’m interested, but I’m still not ready to embrace it.
Much like this graduating business, and leaving a place I have come to enjoy so much and feel so comfortable in. I just can’t get excited about it. I liked reliability of knowing I wouldn’t be able to get into the psychology classes I wanted and going on the dreaded waiting list. I like it here. I don’t want to leave right now, life is going pretty swell just the way it is, thank you very much.
But these events, graduation and the World Cup, are coming if I’m ready to leave Stevens Point or not, if I’m ready to see the same ESPN World Cup commercial a million times or not and if I’m ready to move on in my mind or not.
I really tried, as you can probably tell, for as long as I could to avoid thinking about any of this, keeping everything an arm’s length away from my brain. But with that said, it’s time to stop brushing the World Cup and, more importantly, the post-grad life to the side; it has to happen sometime after all, and it is a pretty big deal, something worth getting excited about. Moving on is the next step, though it’s not a bad one, I don’t think. We will have to see what happens.