Tuesday, June 17, 2014

World Cup Thoughts and International Travel

Once again the World Cup is in the news. Yesterday the U.S. got a monkey off its back by defeating Ghana, the nemesis that defeated them in their past two meetings, both times resulting in their failure to advance. Most interestingly, all three games had a 2-1 score. Only the outcome was different this time.

I never played organized soccer when I was young as I envisioned a future in baseball at that time. But when my son Micah was growing up baseball didn't seem to interest him much. Rather, soccer became the sport he took a shine to. At age six or seven he began collecting soccer cards, and what I found especially interesting was his fascination with the flags of the various countries that decorated the face of the cards. The players and teams were from all over the world, and the game had attractions on many levels.

One thing I liked about soccer is the amount of exercise you get when you play. It's good for your lungs as you have to do a lot of running and if you really love the game it would be hard to simultaneously take up the smoking habit (if you really want to be at the top of your game.) It's also a team sport when you play it the way it's meant to be played.

Ironically it was my daughter who became the international traveler. How that came to be is a much longer story than I have time for, but she got the bug for travel early (we flew her to Northern Ireland via Dublin when she was 13 to visit the families of two girls whom we hosted through the Children's Program of Northern Ireland.) She later went to Scotland and Italy, and still later the Netherlands and the U.K., and for 18 months lived in China, taking a three week break to tour portions of Southeast Asia.

As I list her travels I'm picturing the soccer cards from many of these countries and their flags, the emblems of their nations, and how the World Cup -- like the Olympics -- brings them together for a season.

International travel is remarkably easy these days compared to a few centuries ago. In the sixteenth century when a church sent missionaries abroad it was usually with the understanding that this was going to be a one-way trip. Nowadays, you simply make sure you have your passport up-to-date and you're on your way.

Another way to see the world is to be an international rock star. Tonight Bob Dylan will be performing in Dublin. By week's end he will be in Istanbul and from there it will be on to Greece where he is doing two concerts before heading to Romania for a concert there midweek next. The Never Ending Tour continues.

Nothing too profound to report on today. Just a few thoughts about international happenings. 

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