Before moving to New Zealand I watched a lot of sport. Football, cricket, tennis, golf, athletics, snooker, darts (is that a sport?), you name it. Even when I came here I got to know in which cities the various Super 12 (or 14) rugby teams were based. But in the last year or two I've largely lost interest. My attitude has been, who cares who wins? How can this bloody football match possibly matter any more than the winner of Ready Steady Dance matters? Of course a lot of this has been caused by my depression, and when I'm depressed very little seems to matter.
However, in the last two weeks things have changed again, due to Wimbledon and the biggest single-sport event on the planet, the World Cup. When you're overseas you begin to get some idea of how big an international event the World Cup really is. In Bangkok and Bali, both in countries without a team in the competition, people were going nuts. I watched a few of the games, mostly on a very grainy TV picture in my hotel room, though in Bali I'd sometimes see a game in a bar with a big screen while downing a Bintang beer.
Many of the games I saw were a disappointment but it was a delight to witness New Zealand's progress. I have to admit I got quite animated when they scored in the last minute to draw with Slovakia, but their shock 1-1 result against Italy was something else. I'd rate that match among the best in the group stages, bettered only by the States' comeback against Slovenia. When the All Whites returned to Wellington today following a third straight draw, they got the rapturous reception they deserved. A classic match (for all the wrong reasons) was Portugal's 7-0 thumping of North Korea, sorry, the Democratic People's Repuplic of Korea. I wondered what the hell it would be like to live in North Korea, and how many people in that country knew anything about the match.
As for Wimbledon, the first three rounds of the singles competitions have now been completed (yes, despite that match they really have!) so with sixteen players left in both draws I'll try and predict the winners. In the men's I'll go out on a limb a bit and pick Söderling; anyone who can hit the ball that hard, that accurately, and is in such a rich vein of form, must be in with a serious chance. On the women's side I'll play safe and stick with Serena.
I've still got the rest of my trip to write about. I promise I'll do that soon. I should also mention that tomorrow is Dad's 60th birthday.