For new visitors, occasional visitors that missed appropriate comments, and frequent visitors that do not have a firm grasp of the obvious, I confess to not having much interest in watching other people compete at sport. I have been active at various forms of sport--changing as I became older, mostly because I could not find ice or 11 other interested parties or twenty needed to make up opposing teams--for most of my life and never been much of a spectator, either in a stadium or in front of a television.
As young boy, I often fell asleep listening to baseball on the radio. That habit caused my mother to buy my first clock radio, because she quickly tired of climbing the stairs each night to switch off the bloody thing. I recall listening occasionally to football games, when I was at boarding school. Television first entered the equation in my sophomore year of college, when I joined a fraternity. At my college, fraternities were the preferred alternative for men’s dining and not joined for the “Greek” experience. The fraternity house had a television in the main room, which attracted most members on Saturday and Sunday afternoons for sports programs. I preferred to study, read, or explore the countryside. I competed in three team sports at boarding school and college, which did not foster a desire to watch others compete. I gain no vicarious pleasure from watching others do what I cannot or do not wish to do (none of my favorite sports were televised in those days).
These thoughts passed through my mind as I watched the final game of the European soccer/football competition for women, played by Germany and Norway. I occasionally watch women’s soccer/football, because I find it a purer form of the game, played at about the tempo of the game of my day. The men’s game has become too intense and often to physical. As so often in the past (ie. the last eight competitions!) the German women won. Despite this unequaled record (as far as I know) in sport, the German women’s soccer/football team gets no respect...from few besides me.
This is a special bonus post, featuring several words relating to the Women's World Cup Competition (that's in soccer/footfall for anyone out of tune...which seems to be many in the US).
The first word is verschossen. That means to shoot and miss, which is what more than one player did in the penalty kick shoot-out, needed to determine a winner. If you can't hit the goal, it is difficult to win, especially if the other team can. Penalty shoot-outs are usually decided by one goal: a two goal decision is more than decisive and embarrassing for any team.
The next word is verloren. That's what the US team--the one favored to win the Cup--did to the amazement of everyone, including the team that beat them (Japanese people are not known for visible displays of self-confidence. It's a good thing they won, so they will not have to apologize to the nation for having failed. It will be interesting to see if anyone notices and celebrates, given the position of women in Japanese society.)
The third word is versagen. That means to fail, which can be applied to more than just the American team. This is how the German team is labeled, because "all" Germans expected them to win on their home turf, despite not being favorites (for non-Germans). Perhaps, it can be applied to all teams that did not win, but it sticks best to the American and the German teams. Maybe a bit more to the Americans...
The final word in this bonus issue is Aussenseiter. That's the closest you can get to underdog in German. It means literally, "one that stands outside". I have not seen bookmaker odds, but I doubt that many bet on Japan to win. Somehow, they "got inside" and did a job on all the favorites.
I am happy that Japan won.
After the German team was unceremoniously dispatched by these young and unfavored unknowns, I considered rooting for Sweden. I have no rational explanation. Perhaps it was the large number of blonds (only kidding!). After they lost, I decided that I wanted Japan to win. First of all, I like underdogs. I like to see the favorite upset, especially when one is forced to listen to posturing in the media. Second, I thought a Japan win might reduce the embarrassment suffered by Germany (my wife still can't understand how they could have lost to a nation of short people) and a Japanese win could explain Germany's loss...to her. It didn't. She still can't understand how Japan could win the World Cup.
My friend, Antje, always says "Sport ist Mord", and this World Cup proved her right...again.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.