I’m all into the World Cup!
Whereas many of my friends growing up felt that soccer (futbol) was less of a sport that our American football, baseball or basketball, I never really cared enough to have an opinion of it. My late nephew, Gray Griffin, was a marvelous soccer player who was captain of the US 16-17 year olds when they played in that World Cup in Trinidad in the late 1990s. (He likely would have been on the USA’s World Cup team this year.) I liked soccer because I loved him, but I never really studied the intricacies of the game.
When Trinidad & Tobago made it to the World Cup in 2006, I watched every minute of the “Soca Warriors” when they played. The entire nation of Trinidad and Tobago basically shut down when they qualified for those games for the first time. I began to ‘get it.’
Now? Now, I’m all in–vuvuzelas and all. Why? Some of the reasons are from a sports fan’s point of view, some are from a more missional point of view.
- Their athleticism is phenomenal. There is no stoppage of action. These men are in constant motion, and I marvel at what good shape they are in.
- The time doesn’t stop. A New York Times article last year noted that in a three-hour professional (American) football game, there is a grand total of eleven minutes of action. Not with soccer. The game time does not stop. Even if there is a stoppage in play, the clock keeps moving. I like that.
- The low scores do not bother me. Some of my favorite games in baseball are “pitcher’s duels” which end 1-0 or 2-1. Even some of the best football games are 14-7 or 21-14. Same with soccer. One goal equals one point, not seven—but the goals are still the same amount. Typical American excess says more is better. In the words of George Gershwin, “It ain’t necessarily so.”
Missional Point of View
- I enjoy seeing various cultures on the world stage. Paraguay, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico. South Africa, Ghana, Ivory Coast. The Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain. North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Australia. This helps break me out of my mentality that the United States of America is all there is and the only culture of consequence. Not so. All of these nations have a storied history, culture—and a shared need for the gospel.
- Expectations are key. Brazil, Italy, France, and Spain would all be disappointed if they did not win or at least make it to the “final four.” Landon Donovan of the USA said that if they may it out of their initial group (which they did), that would be a success. Last World Cup, Trinidad and Tobago scored two points in their group and made a respectable showing, and they arrived back in Port of Spain heroes. What are our expectations with our organizations, especially our churches—to be Spirit-filled churches violently pursuing the Great Commission, or ones with low expectations just happy to keep the doors open one more Sunday? I pray that we would all have a Brazil-like mentality, expecting to ‘win,’ if you will.
- Good things happen when you storm the goal. At times, the play unfolds to where either from a corner kick, penalty kick, or just in the flow of the game that a kick comes in toward the box and numerous players converge to try and score a goal. It reminded me of an expression that some Christians are so fired up that they would storm hell with a water pistol. Would that we all be on fire and charge the goal of the Great Commission in that way.
What about you? Are you ‘in to’ the World Cup?