Tonawanda News

June 26, 2014

WALLACE: On the World Cup bandwagon

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — I have to admit it, I have World Cup fever. It didn’t start off that way. I have never actually watched a World Cup prior to this year and am not a big soccer, or futbol as the rest of the world likes to call it, fan.  

But the one thing I am is a huge bandwagon jumper. I can unabashedly admit that if a lot of people, or most of the world in this case, get behind a cause then I am right there behind them shouting USA, USA. 

I actually have a proud history of bandwagon jumping. My first foray onto the bandwagon was way back in the early ‘90s when the Buffalo Bills won their first AFC Championship and were headed to their first ever Super Bowl. 

But honestly, how could you not jump on that bandwagon? I mean it was everywhere. I worked at the local McDonald’s and every Friday we got to cast off the bland brown uniform and trade it for jeans and a Bill’s T-shirt or jersey. That was pretty much the norm at any fast-food restaurant, grocery store or other local business in Western New York leading up to the championship. The Bills really did make everyone “want to shout” back then, but for good reasons not bad ones.

And that first bandwagon begrudgingly lasted four long and ultimately disappointing years. I mean, I am still a Bills fan but without quite the zest and zeal of those early ‘90 years. 

But back to my history of bandwagon jumping. In the mid to late ‘90s, it was all about “Mike” for me, Michael Jordan that is and his Chicago Bulls. Again, after never really being that into basketball, I found myself never missing a Bulls game on TV. I watched with everyone else as “Air Jordan” seemed to really fly through the air. 

The Bulls won an NBA record-72 games during the 1995–96 NBA season and are the only team in NBA history to win 70 games or more in a single season. Jordan led his team to a total of six championships in the early and the late ‘90s. And I can say I watched the greatest to ever play the game, when he played the game. 

Then in 2004, how could you not root for the Boston Red Sox playing against the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series? It would finally mean that by winning, the “Curse of the Bambino” would be lifted and the Red Sox would win a World Series Championship for the first time since 1918. One of the longest winning droughts in baseball. 

So going back to the 2014 World Cup. Working at night on the news desk, I am often surrounded by the all male sports staff who like to monopolize the newsroom TV with sports. I kind of casually watched World Cup games in the beginning, not really that interested. I did find it funny how the soccer players, I’ll call it soccer since that is what we refer to it as in the U.S., fake and over-exaggerate injuries to try to draw a foul. These guys could win Oscars for some of the acting performances they put on. 

But then the U.S. team beat Ghana. It seemed like that win was a game changer, pun intended. The U.S. team usually does not advance very far in the World Cup that is mainly dominated by South American and European teams. 

So the buzz started about the game against Portugal. I decided it was worth my time to watch and I was already highly entertained by the drama on the field between the faked injuries and acting like they won the championship every time a goal was scored. 

As I watched the game from home with my family, I browsed social media and was surprised to see that thousands of people were down at Canalside watching the game outside on a big screen. There were watch parties like this all over the area including on Hertel Avenue in North Buffalo and elsewhere.

The game was a roller coaster of emotions, such elation when we scored two goals to lead the game and such deflation when Portugal scored to tie. I may not be a die-hard fan decked out in face paint and wearing the American flag as a cape, but you can bet I will be watching today to see if the U.S. can beat Germany and advance. Go USA!

 Amy Wallace is the city editor of the Tonawanda News. Contact her at amy.wallace@tonawanda-news.com.