World Cup Fever Strikes imoriknits!
For my Southern Hemisphere friends, this is the middle of the winter and especially on the North Island of New Zealand, the middle of a dreary rainy season. But for those of us up here, it is HOT. HOT HOT HOT. For someone who spends half of her time thinking about making knitted things, the summer is a weird time. I still think about it, but there are days when I don't even want to touch yarn because, well, it's HOT! More about that at the end. But for the last few weeks, my life has been completely reorganized around the phenomenon that is the World Cup.
Let me preface what I am about to say with this disclaimer. In my other life (I've finally given up saying previous life because I can't seem to get away from it all) I am a historian of imperialism and religion. There are few things that cause me to forget what I'm doing and lead me to launch into a tedious and annoying lecture about the constructed and artificial and manipulative nature of things as much as anything associated with nationalism. I am naturally cynical, resist having my heartstrings pulled (damn you, Dodo animal videos!), and roll my eyes at the slight provocation. And yet. And yet, I cannot get enough of international sporting events. And the World Cup is by far my favorite. I never played soccer, even though I was obsessed with sports in middle and high school (perhaps you could even say I was an athlete, a designation I find quite amusing now). I just kind of understand the rules. Off-sides perpetually confounds me. But I don't care. Every four years, I lose my mind over soccer. and the nations that make up this messy and glorious romp.
I have a special friend who insists that because I hold US citizenship, I should only root for the US. I find this ridiculous, and not only because I refuse to ascribe to this kind of nationalist alignment, even when confined to sports. For one thing, rooting for the US at an international event is boring. They should win. Look at all the resources that are available here! I prefer the underdog. Although, when I was growing up, I very proudly cheered for the US much more than I did for Japan (I also cheered for Sweden, the reasons for which I've explained in an earlier post). But one of the things I love about the World Cup is I have an embarrassment of options in who to cheer for, whose drama to follow, which group of people whose joys and sorrows to join. And this year's incredibly dramatic (even for the World Cup) two weeks has been a doozy. First there was Iceland.
I can't claim any actual relationship to it, but I've visited. (Also did you hear about the super hot Iceland sub?) That's enough for me! And of course Japan, whose early triumph over Colombia nearly broke Tokyo's plumbing and introduced the world (again) to the Japan side's courteous and clean fans (and players). And Sweden! From the heartbreaking loss to Germany to their domination over Mexico and their win over Switzerland, Sweden was the team I claimed most as my own. I've been there 3 times and know where my ancestors came from. Close enough!
My World Cup obsession has also been a nice break from the steady drum beat of depressing (and horrifying and just heartbreaking) news that seems to churn itself out of the bog that is the government. I get to pretend to belong to Iceland or Sweden (or Denmark or England...I claim them all!) (Japan too but I don't want the politics...yuck Abe). And I realize this is a horribly naive thing to say, but I am still enough of an athlete to feel a certain purity and beauty in the drama of sports. To my friends who were not obsessed with sports at one point in their lives and find the losing part of competitive sports a bit harsh, all I can ever say is that in order to have the chance to win, you accept that you might lose. This is the risk we all accept. It is a metaphor for life. And yes, professional sports is not so pretty and pure. But let me hold onto that fantasy for a few more days, as I revel in victories and mourn losses (Japan and Sweden, so sad!), and lose myself in the simplicity and absurdity of grown men running madly back and forth after a ball for over 90 minutes. (And in case you think I'm being sexist, I'm already excited for the Women's World Cup next year!)
And this isn't to say I haven't been thinking about knitting. As I grapple with heady topics like nationalism and cultural appropriation in my own designs and products, somehow the strange nationalism of international sport and my own endeavors intersect in weird ways, at least in my head. I am working on some new things, despite the heat and discomfort of this season.
So all I will say now is to the fans of France and Croatia, may the best team win! (Although as a fan of the underdog, I have to admit I'm pulling for Croatia and their insane checkered kits.) And for all of us sweating it out (and to all in western and southern Japan, hopefully staying high up above flooding waters...if you haven't heard about this, please read and keep them in your prayers), stay cool. May it soon be Fall when thoughts of knitted things to keep you warm start to fill your mind again!