On Friday I’ll get to begin enjoying my fourth World Cup since moving to New York City. When the World Cup was in the States in 1994, I attended two group stage games at the Pontiac Silverdome: USA v. Switzerland and Brazil v. Sweden. Nothing beats attending a game and absorbing the spectacle and celebration that surrounds it, and seeing it played on real grass inside a dome (that recently sold for just over $500k) was a surreal experience that I’ll vividly remember the rest of my life.
But If you can’t attend the tournament, NYC must be the next best place to be. Thousands of folks are out in their kits, draped with flags, and every other conversation you overhear on the street seems to be about the Cup. The event unites the focus of the world, and that effect’s on full display in New York. It gives those with ties to other countries permission to flamboyantly celebrate those connections, and for other New Yorkers to join or mock them. Soccer bars (like Nevada Smith’s or these national rooting spots) are packed with fans throughout the day watching games played halfway around the world, and those fans are usually banging on drums, singing and screaming at each other, and downing pints (whether they have to go back to work or not). Whole blocks shut down in Little Italy, Koreatown, and Little Brazil on those countries’ match days, and fans watch from the street on gigantic displays amidst a carnival.
The best thing about New York City is the opportunity it gives us to sample the world. That’s never more true than during the World Cup.