usa world cup fever :: alcohol, crowd dynamics, and fresh motivation

June 23, 2010

I get a little unnerved when I realize there’s a huge group of people who obviously got the memo on something awesome I knew nothing about.  Like when I realized, three seasons into LOST, that everyone I knew considered it the best thing to happen to television since The Dukes of Hazzard.  I hadn’t seen a single episode.  Apparently iPhones are a big deal.  Thanks a bunch, T-Mobile.  And Noodling (reaching bare-handed under murky riverbanks to allow catfish the size of my oldest son to latch onto your arm so you can wrestle them to shore.  Everybody’s doing it…)  How have I missed that train?  You get the picture.

I had one of those experiences this morning at Brit’s Pub, downtown Minneapolis, where I met a couple buddies for breakfast and the USA vs. Algeria World Cup soccer game on their giant outdoor screen.  In a nail-biter, Landon Donovan of Team USA finally scored the winning goal after regulation play had expired, securing a USA win for our group – the first time we’ve achieved that honor since the first World Cup was organized in 1930.

I’m sure there were 60,000 people there already getting their buzz on before I arrived at 8:37AM.  And yes, I realize I was on my way to a pub.  But I did expect to see a lot more coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice than Guinness.  No one sent me the memo.  I thought drinking before 9AM was looked down upon.  Apparently, not so much.

Before this morning, I had no idea Brit’s Pub, located right across from Orchestra Hall on Nicolette Mall, even existed.  We had the greatest time ever.  It’s fun to merge into a rowdy crowd, surging with Team spirit and drunken revelry… well, Team spirit, anyway.  Average age = 27.  Tattoo quotient = 84%.  Graphic T-shirts and/or futbol jerseys = 47,523.  Percentage of people enjoying a pint = 96%.

This experience was enough to make me a soccer fan.  But I gotta tell you, it was all about the environment.  I’ve watched soccer.  By myself.  Alone.  For about 4 minutes.  Then I realize once again why I never became a soccer player.  They just run.  And run.  A lot.  REALLY a lot.  And scoring is rare.  MANY a game runs 95 minutes with nary a goal from either team.  Today’s score was 1-0, after all, and that goal didn’t come until after the 90 minutes of regulation play had expired.

But you get a crowd of people in the same place with a single-minded purpose, and the passion is contagious.  Exponential.  Here’s a clip from the outdoor crowd at Brit’s this morning, 10 seconds after the game winner from Landon Donovan…

Crowd dynamics.  I’m sure several hundred of those people going crazy were just like me… eager to cheer on Team USA, but unsure before today of our standing in the World Cup so far this year.  Maybe even unfamiliar with the rules, to be honest.  But today, we were ONE.  Rabid, screaming, passionate FANS, and we were UNITED.  Celebrating.  Exuberant.

Kind of like heaven will be.  But with less drunk people.  And an infinitely more worthy Subject for our adulation.

So to bring this home, I have this strange dual emotional reality overtake me in a crowd like this.  It’s fun.  It really is.  But I see more than a mob of celebrators.  I see souls.  I can take part in the celebration.  But I also have a serious side of me that sees a mass of souls, many of whom are on a path toward death and destruction.  Eternal pain.  And it stays with me.

Watch that video again – the one from Brit’s this morning.  How many souls can you count?  How many of these 9AM Guinness-drinking soccer fans need Jesus?

Every one.  I’m motivated again.  And I do believe I’d like to return to Brit’s for the next round.  Wanna join me to raise a pint of Coke Zero and cheer on the boys?

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This work by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


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Psalm 24:7 & Luke 10:42 >> Like David, and Mary, I'm in pursuit of my one thing. I'm the Pastor at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Montgomery, IL. Pastor, teacher, writer, communicator, designer, and drummer. I definitely got the better deal in my marriage to Amy. And I couldn't be any more proud of my five amazing boys. Deeply grateful.

3 responses to usa world cup fever :: alcohol, crowd dynamics, and fresh motivation

  1. Watching that video gives me chills. It’s just so cool how for one moment, there is no difference. We’re just all one people. (and I’m one with bad grammar…yikes!) I love soccer though. My aunt Abby had a scholarship through college and traveled all over the states with her team. That’s why my grandparents to Chloe and I on a nine day trip down to Denver at the end of last summer, because she had a championship game down there and a couple more on the way. It was awesome. There’s such a real sense of belonging when you’re standing in the air screaming your head off after your team scored. Which maybe is why so many people are sports fans. Okay, getting rambly here…

    • Yep – that’s the beauty of sports fans. Endomorphs, ectomorphs, type-a people and type-b people, tall and short, all colors, all political proclivities… all united. The only other place I see that kind of ONE-ness is the Church – when it’s really functioning the way God intended it to (see Jesus prayer in John 17!). And I’m always looking for a good metaphor for Kingdom living, you know. 🙂 Thanks for reading and getting in on the discussion, Hannah! Bless you, friend.