Neither sentence nor clause nor phrase, two words have recently captured the world’s attention: “Because Fútbol.” After 62 matches over 30 days, the World Cup competition is now down to its final two teams, but its fan base far exceeds the citizens of Argentina and Germany.
Sports, in general, and international competitions, in particular, have long been a feature of human life. As St. John Paul II once said to representatives of UEFA, futbol’s governing body, sport can and should be at the service of people, by fostering “an overall development of the body, a sound spirit of competition, an education in the values of life, joie de vivre, fun and recreation.” Notwithstanding the moral questions that attend this or any human competition, the playing of sports figures prominently into Josef Pieper’s rightful assertion that leisure is the basis of culture.
For the 2014 World Cup, that culture has been communicated at an astounding pace. With a television audience expected to reach 3.6 billion people, animated ads have attracted viewers, and creative commercials – like those from Hyundai and Adidas – have injected new slogans into our collective consciousness.
Even more prominently, social media has feasted on the festival of futbol. In the space of one week alone (June 12-18), 141 million people generated 459 million Facebook interactions. For just one match (Brazil vs. Germany), 35.6 million Tweets were sent, easily surpassing the previous record for any sporting event (the 2014 Super Bowl at a mere 24.9 million). Political cartoonists have had a field day. And even the players themselves have taken to social media – which is the only way they can use their hands for this sport!
More so than other “world” championships, and even more than the individual competitions in the Olympics, the FIFA World Cup is a global human phenomenon. Throughout the qualifying buildup, and especially during the matches, patriotism soars, passion abounds, and enthusiasm runs rampant. But in the end, athleticism wins, and the trophy is awarded to just one team. Soon we will find out whose prayers for this have been heard!
Featured image from www.justfreestuff.com