The World Cup semi-finals start today, not that I can muster the strength to watch.
I still care what happens, and I still pull hard for Uruguay, but after Argentina lost on Saturday, I need time to recover. It’s been a rough several months for me as a sports fan. Don’t get me wrong, I’m relishing the renaissance of the Reds, but I’m not about to pretend that the Super Bowl and the World Cup defeats don’t get me down.
The two losses illustrate the diverse ways in which various kinds of losses can affect you. The Super Bowl was a narrow loss to a good team. There was a lot to be proud of, but eventually the what ifs start to drive you insane. Again, people outside Colts nation made such a big deal about the Pick Six play, but for Colts fans that’s not the play that hurts. The drop, the 3rd and 1, the onside kick, the Collie pass at the goal line, the field goal, Freeney being hurt…that’s the stuff that gets me.
The big bright side however is that the Colts are about to start a new season. They are still loaded, still awesome. I have every reason to expect them to finish this year what they started last year. In another month, they’ll be playing again, and I’ll be ok. In the long run this won’t sting like the two Steelers losses did in 1995 and 2005.
Argentina’s loss, however, that’s a different kind of bitter. If you have to lose a big game, getting blown clean out of the building is the way to go. You don’t stress over each mistake. You just have to shake the whole thing off and let it go. It’s not about any one of a half dozen little things that went wrong. It’s about a systemic problem inherent in the team structure. Ok, I can live with that. Sometimes you just aren’t good enough. Whatever.
The problem with the World Cup, however, and what makes it so compelling is that there is no next year. Four years is a long time to wait. Sure, qualifying starts all too soon, but redemption stands aloof. To make matters worse, the next “Mundial” is in Brazil. If you know anything about the history of World Cups, you know that it will be nearly impossible for anyone but Brazil to win it regardless of whether they are the best team or not. Realistically, we are talking about 8 years before Argentina has a serious chance to win a cup.
So even though it’s better to lose a blowout than a close game, somehow I still feel worse about Argentina than the Colts. Sports is about hope.
The Colts give me plenty. The Celeste y Blanco give me none. “Wait ’til next year!” might be a despressing way to root, but at least there is a next year.