As I write, I am watching the U.S. play Algeria. I drove down from Baltimore to DC to catch the game on Dave’s cable. I’m blessed to be able to watch the match and work.
Normally, I’m not much of a sports fan, but when the World Cup comes on, I try to watch every match I can. I think this fascination started during the last cup when I lived in San Francisco and lots of my friends were soccer players as kids. One friend, Jose, got up at 4am every morning to watch the early matches. His enthusiasm was catchy.
But I like the World for more reasons than just vicarious energy. First, I love that most of these players make their living playing for smaller teams (if you can call Man. United a smaller team) and that those teams allow them the time and space to play for the World Cup. Writers often work the same way – we plug along making our living by teaching or editing or working other kinds of day jobs, but when it’s time for the big thing – the book tour or the giant publication – we are often privileged enough to be able to take time to celebrate those things.
I also love the internationalism of the World Cup. Not only are these matches bring the world together as fans in a very real way, but the teams themselves are international. Many of the Algerians that I’m watching play hold positions on French and English teams. Sometimes the English actually come and play for the U.S. It’s truly a global sport. And this is one of the amazing things about the writing world, too. A writer in Morocco does the same thing as a writer in German or Malaysia. Writers are writers.
The other thing I see as a parallel in writing and soccer is that both require hours of practice. With the exception of the French (for one day), these teams have been practicing even during the excitement and energy of these games. They don’t get to sit back and rest on their laurels, and neither do writers. We must practice even as our new books come out; we don’t really get a day off.
These are people of passion, these soccer players. We are people of passion, us writers. When do you think we’ll have the World Cup of Words? Where should our first gathering be? I’m thinking South Africa sounds pretty good.