Anticipating Euro 2012

Euro 2012 (the men’s European soccer championship) begins next Friday, and I can’t wait! I dreamt last night about England’s opening match (although it was their first World Cup match in the dream because they were playing China). Steven Gerrard scored in the first minute on a volley from the left side, which was good, but I was angry that Danny Welbeck wasn’t in the team because I am a huge Manchester United fan. Phil Jones was, though.

I love big soccer tournaments: the huge, jam-packed stadiums with perfect green pitches and fans wearing crazy face-paint and hats; the ritual of the national anthems before each match, where you get to see which players sing because they are confident, which ones don’t sing because they are nervous, and which ones don’t sing because they don’t know the words (n.b.: The U.S.A. has one of the worse-sounding anthems, and Latin America has some of the best-sounding, but both of these points are moot for the Euros. “God Save the Queen” is the only one in this tournament that will stand out, as the rest are pretty average.); the fact that there is only one video feed for the entire world, so each set of announcers has to adjust to what the feed is showing, which is especially funny when the feed refuses to include a timely replay of a crucial event, or when it shows one of the coaches making a bizarre facial expression, or when it shows an important play from much earlier in the match, but it isn’t clear immediately to the announcer which play it is.

Although the knockout rounds, and especially the semi-finals and final, are the matches that people will remember most years from now (though the match I remember most vividly from the 1998 World Cup is the first-round encounter between Holland and Belgium, when Patrick Kluivert got sent off), I find myself enjoying the opening round matches more because that is when the most upsets occur, and when there is a feeling of new excitement that gives the matches a fresh, fun vibe. This is missing in the knockout stages when Everything Is On The Line, and the teams tend to play tense as a result, which results in soccer that is of no higher quality than in the first round even though theoretically better teams are playing (note that this is happily often not the case in women’s tournaments–the knockout stages of the 2011 Women’s World Cup, and especially the final, were scintillating). It also normally results in many matches being decided on penalties, which always feels wrong (especially if you’re England!) even though the shootout itself can be exciting.

I’ll have my predictions of which teams will reach the knock-out rounds in the next few days.

Published by danielshankcruz

I grew up in New York City and lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Goshen, Indiana; DeKalb, Illinois; and Salt Lake City, Utah before coming to Utica, New York. My mother’s family is Swiss-German Mennonite (i.e., it’s an ethnicity, not necessarily a theological persuasion) and my father’s family is Puerto Rican. I have a Ph.D. in English and currently teach at Utica College. I have also taught at Northern Illinois University and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. My teaching and scholarship are motivated by a passion for social justice, which is why my research focuses on the literature of oppressed groups, especially LGBT persons and people of color. While I primarily read and write about fiction, I am also a devoted reader of poetry because, as William Carlos Williams writes, “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet [people] die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Thinkers who influence me include Marina Abramovic, Kathy Acker, Di Brandt, Ana Castillo, Samuel R. Delany, Percival Everett, Essex Hemphill, Jane Jacobs, Walt Whitman, and the New York School of poets. I am also fond of queer Mennonite writers such as Stephen Beachy, Jan Guenther Braun, Lynnette Dueck/D’anna, and Casey Plett. In my free time I’m either reading, writing the occasional poem, playing board games (especially Scrabble, backgammon, and chess), watching sports (Let’s Go, Mets!), or cooking (curries, stews, roasts…).

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