This is all too true, and Hemon actually understates the case. The fog of childhood and the only slightly thinner mist of early adolescence mean that one person can really expect to maintain an adult appreciation for about 17 Cups. At 29, if I'm lucky, I may only have 12 or 13 left myself -- maybe 800 or so total matches. And given the structure of the event, with different countries each year battling from within different groups, a good many of those 800 games will be unique lifetime events. Even among the consistent titans of the game, head-to-head battles are disturbingly rare. When Brazil plays its former colonial overlord Portugal on June 25, it will be the two nations' first World Cup meeting since 1966 (the same goes for a potential Argentina-Spain meeting in this year's finals). It's been over 35 years since Germany last played the Netherlands, and over 25 years since England last faced off against France.
Maybe that kind of math doesn't get you out of bed to watch South Korea play Greece at 7:30 EST on Saturday morning, but I take it as a personal reminder that all 800 of my numbered games are precious in their own way. That's why I intend to watch as many as possible; and that's why I hope to blog a little about it in this space over the next few weeks. I'm trusting that it will heighten my enjoyment of what is already the world's most fascinating sports event. At the very least I think it should relieve Katherine from some of the pressure of my hourly soccer bloviations.
I'll be back tomorrow with some more classically Iron List-style bullet point posts: 5 Teams to Root For; 5 Teams to Root Against; and 10 Bold Predictions for the Cup. In the meantime, here's a hat tip to The New Republic's extremely promising World Cup blog, which features contributions from literati like Hemon and Daniel Alarcon, plus various entertainingly nationalistic intellectual-fans across the world. I'll probably be mainlining most of my half-baked soccer opinions directly from TNR for most of the next month anyway, so if you want to bypass the middle-man, make sure to check it out.