Confronting the Myth and the Reality of Soccer as Another World Cup Begins
As in any other sport, the point is the narrative—but no other sport magnifies its lore in the same way as soccer.
It’s one of the world’s most accessible sports, and also one of its most grueling. A team’s star player can carry the collective weight of a generation. Generations can pass before a country births its own star. And a single score can turn a layperson into a legend, or a throwaway match into the game that’s cited for decades to come.
There is no way to know what will happen next year, let alone next month (the United States will host the World Cup in 2028, and there is quite literally no telling what this country will look like by then), yet in spite of everything, the matches will proceed. We’ll live our lives alongside them.
He asked my mom how it could possibly get any better. And while the rest of the tournament could rewrite that notion or eliminate it entirely, the moment has happened; it’s already history; it will always be there for us to recall.
Bryan Washington’s debut collection, Lot, is forthcoming from Riverhead Books. He has written for the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, Vulture, BuzzFeed, The Paris Review, Boston Review, Tin House, One Story, GQ, FADER, The Awl, and Catapult. He lives in Houston.
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On watching the World Cup in spite of everything, and finding camaraderie with friends and strangers alike.
It isn’t that we sought to separate the “real world” from the matches—just that, for a time, we had something else to think about.