The Setup – Editors’ Cultural Editorials
John: A few months ago Superstar Correspondent, Alex Grant, and I engaged in what bloggers and social media experts have called “the most important back-and-forth-community-based-basketball-related-satire-in-the-history-of-blogs-about-gumboots” – well, Kurt and I have taken that idea and made it global, baby! Over the next three weeks, the Editor-in-Controversy and I will discuss the World Cup and all the community-related events and ideas that spawn from it. We will also talk about soccer/football and make predictions. Most importantly, we will have fun with it!
For me – a Canadian’s Canadian – the World Cup is a sad time. As we know, Canada sucks. At soccer. So we never have a team in the running. Consequently, Canadian soccer fans reach back to their immigrant roots and pick a team associated with the “old country” part of their family tree. Well, my ‘people’ have been here for awhile, so, unless Newfoundland fields an independent team any time soon, I’m stuck giving random allegiance to whoever tickles my fancy come tournament time. Honestly, it’s a pretty hollow existence and I feel a great swell of envy for Kurt, who can throw his support behind his two-generation-removed-homeland, Germania.
Kurt: And so you should John. Cheering for your long removed hereditary team is pretty much the coolest thing ever. It’s something that’ll unify the German diaspora around the world and bring us together in a great moment as we watch hard work and discipline (not fancy feet) – hopefully – pay off! So I don’t know any of the German players’ names. So I don’t own a German jersey. So I’m still convinced Oliver Kahn will be starting in net. For a fan like me, stats and “information” just get in the way of a good time! Go Deutschland Go!
An African Moment…
John: So many negative aspects of Africa’s plight make up our narrative of the continent here in Canada. For example, a few days ago, South African authorities rounded up all the street kids in the cities hosting various footballing venues, like Durban, and, well, shipped them all into the countryside. This has been done to accommodate World Cup tourists visiting the beach-side luxury resorts in the community.
What is supercool are the texts, tweets, Facebooks, emails, and IMs I’ve been getting from my friends in Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa. They espouse pure joy and inspiring hope for an historically memorable event.
I’ll think of the latter example for this week’s African Moment!
Kurt: South Africa has long been perceived as a nation wracked by endemic violence and racial issues. One of the first thing that pops in to my mind when I think of the place is the country where flamethrower cars were invited (designed to light potential car-jackers on fire). Crazy. But now, two decades after the end of apartheid it’s going to be exciting to see the multiplicity of stories the country will be bringing to the table. Just like during the 2010 Olympics, hordes of media will be descending on the country to tell its stories and share them with the world. Tens of thousands of fans will return home after this glorious month with new perspectives on a place once known for incredibly high rape and murder rates. I’m betting a lot of these stories will be positive and am excited to hear them.
Predictions – Group Play
John: Let’s face it, the African teams are going to get some amazing home-town refereeing. And why shouldn’t they? The continent’s best team got thrown into the Group of Death, the best team’s best player broke his arm, and the legacy of colonialism is still horribly prevalent in too many African nations. It’s about time for a break and, hey, for the IMF, World Bank and the UN, fixing a few soccer matches is way cheaper than, you know, relieving debt or working to reduce cash-crops and re-invest in local, diverse food production. So, that’s why I predict Nigeria and Cameroon will make it out of the group stage.
Speaking of colonialism, the European Powers (save King Leopold) will advance, too: England, France, Spain, Germany, and Portugal. Italy will advance, too – they just never really ‘nailed-it’ when it came to taking places over.
I like Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay representing Latin America in the Round of 16.
The United States and Australia will also get out of the group stage, and 17 people will care about it.
Kurt: John, I for the most part agree with your take on the tournament so far. I too expect the European Great “Soccer” Powers to do quite well in the initial rounds. While Portugal will doubtlessly advance they’ll do so with more dramatics than one typically sees at the theatre.
One of the big initial opening questions will be England and the USA. I truly hope the USA trounces England just for hilarity-sake (at least a few red-blooded Englishmen will probably jump off Big Ben if that happens), but I’m not particularly convinced Rooney will let that happen – especially not after the recent – and terrific – Nike video in which he stars.
Then there’s North Korea. They’re in a group with Brazil and Portugal. And if fate, the Gods or Karma have anything to do with it, they’ll be leaving the group dead last considering the abysmal behavior in recent months of Dear Leader – that is unless the Gods are both crazy and STALINIST!
[INSERT TRASH TALK HERE]
John - Age 6.
John: Full disclosure. Kurt Heinrich didn’t know how to fill out his bracket, so I had to help him do it. I’m not saying that this is a true representation of his soccer skills, but I’m not not saying it is, either. Kurt’s inability to read – coupled with his lack of killer instinct (see photo) – will make this exchange nothing short of a cake walk. Perhaps, Kurt, you should just give me the $10 now. Also, Ballack (he’s your goalie) was the linchpin of Germania’s team – with him gone you have nothing. Nothing except an unmatched work ethic, chiseled features and a terrible history with which the country must try to reconcile on a daily basis. Your move, Heinrich.
Kurt - Age 10
Kurt: John the fact you can’t identify a hereditary team to cheer for means you may not have a soul after all. Sorry, but Godfrey and I are already snickering. While I agree with many of your predictions, your inability to cheer for a team you loyally adore (through loss and loss again) means you’re less of a soccer fanatic than me. The only way to prove me wrong is to break a bottle of beer over your head and eat the shattered glass – an act even the craziest and most fanatical English soccer hooligan would be hard pressed to do. You won’t do it. DO IT!