David Brooks: The World Cup calls this parochialism to mind because soccer is not just a sport, it is an entire mentality. We in this country prefer pastimes that are rational and quantifiable. Football plays can be drawn up in a playbook and baseball lends itself to statistical analysis.
But the rest of the world follows a sport that rewards resilience and neuroticism. Soccer is a sport perfectly designed to reinforce a tragic view of the universe, because basically it is a long series of frustrations leading up to near certain heartbreak.
The author Nick Hornby once had the brains to turn around while at an Arsenal match to watch the faces of the fans instead of the game. He observed that over the course of 15 minutes, the fans reflected frustration, rage, bitterness, despair, false hopes and discouragement. That’s because the players are perpetually pushing the ball forward, and it often looks like something is about to happen, but in reality it almost never does.
The goals are never scored.