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Footbol Finale

The first time I felt real patriotism was when I was outside of the country. It wasn't when I was a tourist in France or a beach bum in Mexico, but rather when I was a student in Costa Rica. At that time I was struggling to understand how government works - theirs and ours. Realizing how complicated things were, and that no government has got it right, I suddenly started becoming defensive when people put my country down. Sure - we got our problems - but we're doing the best we can!

This opened the door to complicated feelings that only grew. I experienced it again watching the U.S. Soccer team fail. On the one hand they sucked! Yet somehow I felt more connected to them than too any other team (it may help that I also suck at soccer) and longed so much to have a team for which I could feel pride rather than embarrassment. The game when they pulled together and tied Italy was remarkable. For a few brief seconds I thought they had a chance to at least make it out of the first round.

However, after the U.S. was ousted and the quarterfinals and semifinals came and went I still watched the games identifying with first one team and then other. The most beautiful game I saw was between France and Brazil. They both knew their game and were well matched but even though Brazil has that gorgeous fancy footwork, France owned the ball through out most of the game. When the final show down between Italy and France took place I was torn. I kept thinking of a friend who is half Italian and surely rooting for the game but my heart went out to France.

My head kept balancing things like sluggish economy, riots, issues with Iraq, and corruption scandals trying to decide who "deserved" to win. However, in the end all I could think about were the wonderful people I met in Dijon, wandering the countryside around Pont du Guard, and the streets of Paris.

Most of all, I was sad when it was over and done. It was eerily quiet walking through the streets realizing that I was part of a minority who was even aware of the games. I miss the unification that happened around the game while I was in other countries. The last few days I looked at the sports page in the paper and realize with a sigh that once again, for the next four years, there is nothing in it for me.

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