I’ve got a habit of never watching a game of any kind after it’s already been played. I’ve always believed that if I watched a sporting event in real time – LIVE – that I could make a difference in the outcome. I believe that my energy / my xi / my WILL can alter the outcome. I believe that if I watch it in real time – no matter where the event is taking place – that I can cheer my team to victory.
(If I watch a recorded game though, I can’t impact the outcome, so just go ahead and tell me what happened. I don’t like surprises anyway.)
World Cup 2010
Last world cup (2010), my family and I were at Disney World on vacation (We live in Tampa, so it’s an easy get-away). We decided to go to the ESPN cafe to watch the USA play Nigeria.
The game was close and it looked like we would lose and possibly be eliminated from the competition. It was tense, and everyone was quiet as time rapidly ticked away.
In the 89th minute however, my 5 year old son, Jonah (who’s still quite a cheerleader) began chanting “USA… USA… USA”. For some, it seemed fruitless, but most of the fans chimed in anyway, perhaps guilted, perhaps hoping that it could make a difference. We were watching the game live, so it might help.
USA… USA… USA
Jonah – energized by the support of everyone else chanting with him – began clapping in rhythm with the chant… and the cheer grew louder.
Then, in the 90th minute, as if it couldn’t get any louder in the restaurant, Landon Donovan received a quick throw from Tim Howard and began racing down the right side of the field with the ball. Everyone stood, and they began chant-screaming even louder – “USA… USA… USA”!
Just outside the penalty box, Donovan made a pass to Altidore on his right that instantly led to a pass in the middle to Dempsey.
The Algerian goalkeeper quickly came out and blocked the point-blank shot from Dempsey, as the crowd screamed!… then groaned as the shot was deflected… TO THE RIGHT FOOT OF LANDON! GOOOOAAL!
…and the crowd went wild!
Jumping and screaming and hugging and crying. We had cheered our team to victory. Everyone went around the room – high-fiving strangers – like we had all scored the goal ourselves. There was no doubt that we had done it: We had willed our team to win.
I will never forget that day and the cheer that my 5 year old son started. I’ll always believe that our collective cheering and energy helped propel our team to victory that day.
And that’s why I think the USA won tonight: Because of faith and the collective energy of every American who believed and hoped our team would win.
Let tonight be the first of many wins, thanks to the collective belief and support of every American soccer fan.