What about this passion? Can you bottle it?
Photo: Friso Gentsch/EPA/Landov
I don’t know much about soccer. We have a team here in Portland, the Timbers. I have seen them play. I’ve listened to the Timber Army that stands, sings and waves banners through the entire match. I consider that to be a feat of extreme endurance. And very loud. I have friends with season passes who sit in the sixth row, and can speak with great vehemence about each of the Timber players by name. I have friends who are in Brazil right now fulfilling a dream to go to the World Cup.
But I was taught the true meaning of the love of futbol by a friend who recently moved to Portland from Belgium. Naturally he’s a supporter of the Red Devils, the Belgium World Cup team. His fervor is intense. He speaks to the television in Flemish athough he won’t tell me what he is saying. Probably naughty words. He falls to his knees and looks heavenward when Belgium scores. He picks up his wife and whirls her around. This is the kind of stuff I can get behind. It is genuine. Formidable.
He takes time away from the game to explain everything things to me, except for the offside rule which he says is impossible to understand. (Check this link to hear John Cleese explain the unexplainable: https://www.understandingsoccer.com/rule-11-the-offside.html)
Does this relate to presenting. Of course, else why would I be writing this? At the heart of great presentation is genuine passion. Futbol passion.
Now compared with Belgium, America has had a very short time with soccer. As a kid, playing soccer wasn’t even an option for me. Now, of course, it is practically mandatory and families spend Saturdays shuttling from one kid’s match to another. As these kids grow up and our American league gains steam, soccer is catching on here. But we are still decades behind Europe and South America in our love affair with the game.
There is a group of American soccer fans who bug me. It seems to me that their enthusiasm for soccer is kind of an affectation. They often speak of soccer by comparing it unfavorably to American football. You know, football is big and mean and violent whereas soccer is the “beautiful game”, European and elegant. It seems often that they support soccer to prove that they are beyond mainstream America where the yahoo football lovers live. Their love of soccer puts them in the rarified air on the mountain top with other refined, true futbol lovers. Can you smell passion?
On the other hand, there is my Belgian friend. He watched soccer all his life. He played with his friends since he was a kid and on into manhood. His enthusiasm feels different. He doesn’t wear it like a special coat. It’s like his skin. He’s in it. Before the start of the World Cup, he told me, “only two more weeks.” I didn’t need to ask two more weeks until what? I knew from the joyous look on his face exactly what it was that only two weeks away. His passion is so real, so effortless. It doesn’t have a thing to do with him. If I could drink a cup of his selfless passion before going on stage, I’d win over every audience member in a flash.
P.S. So now I have to take it all – or some it anyway – because I watched the USA/Portugal game yesterday. I thought perhaps I’d root for Portugal, because of their uniforms. Styling. But wait a darn minute. Those USA guys were pretty determined, working hard, working well. Ha. Nearly instantly I became a rabid fan of the red, white and blue. Not just a supporter, but a fan, a fanatic. My partner and I screamed our fool heads off when our boys scored and were cast way down in the depths at the last minute Portugal goal that resulted in a draw and not a win. We joined Americans around the world. Instant soccer fans. So much for my theory. It doesn’t take long to become a fan. Like the best of sports, soccer is about belonging to a group of red hot believers rooting for a team that is representing. Drink a cup of that passion and be a real American! Still I like those sexy Portuguese uniforms. But Ronaldo, not so much.
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