Bill Benner’s [June 28] column on the World Cup resonated with many of us in Indianapolis for a variety of reasons.
First, soccer is pure sport, in the best and most meaningful sense of the word. It is a given that any professional sport, such as football, basketball or soccer, has talent on display that is extraordinary. Soccer players, as it turns out, are more highly valued than any other athletes, based on their salaries and the incredible transfer fees paid by one team to another for a specific talent. Consider: Last year, $130 million was paid by one team to gain the playing rights for one player. Imagine that.
But talent aside, we love sports ultimately for the drama they provide. The victory. The defeat. The sweat. Sports provide the complete package in an exciting, breathtaking, human competition. Who could ask for anything more?
As an example, look at the recent World Cup match between Ghana and Uruguay. The eyes of 1 billion Africans were on the only remaining African team from the six that started. Ghana had a shot on goal with no time left in the match, blocked by a handball violation. Ghana had victory in its grasp with a simple penalty shot, which most often goes in. The best player on the team kicked the ball and it hit the crossbar and missed. One billion people who in one moment felt assured of victory were now crushed. Crushed. Eventually, Ghana lost. The Uruguay team members were stunned that they had won. The Africans were in tears.
This is the human drama of athletic competition played on an international stage, where a loss or win is for your country—or in this case, your continent—not just your city or state, as is most often seen here in the United States.
The other Indianapolis angle? Since we live in a great sports town, soccer will grow with our youth, leading to the next 2014 World Cup in Brazil and beyond that, when the World Cup is again hosted in the United States, hopefully here in Indianapolis.
This is a worthy goal, one we can achieve as a world-class city with a growing international population. This gives us all an important goal to strive for, one which can showcase the city as a cosmopolitan, multicultural center. What better way to follow up the 2012 Super Bowl?
Stephen A. Zurcher
Vice president of programsInternational Center of Indianapolis