Only one week into its run, the World Cup in South Africa has already delivered more drama than a full season of the most popular soap opera.
And here’s the difference — this is reality TV.
The omnipresent vuvuzelas provide the soundtrack for every match and they never fail to grab the viewer’s attention.
Ears immediately perk up.
The play-by-play announcers are forced to create urgency in their narration to be heard above the din. Never has so much emotion been spent on a plastic dollar-store horn.
The gigantic gaffe by English goalkeeper Robert Green is akin to the impending fall of the British Empire ... or so we are led to believe.
How can Green possibly go back in that net? And what if he did and he let in another softie? It would surely be the end of his international career.
He would be vilified by the motherland of football. That’s serious stuff.
Then there’s Diego Maradona, the legendary coach of Argentina who dances and twirls on the sidelines as the new star Lionel Messi prowls the pitch for the Albi Celestes.
It is fascinating to watch as the cameras constantly veer from Messi’s brilliant football to the demonstrative and melodramatic Maradona, who becomes the centre of attention as we seemingly wait for his next and perhaps most celebrated meltdown yet.
The South African players come off the bus singing and dancing. It is a joyous solidarity rarely seen in professional sport. And then there are the Italians, who become red-faced and allow tears to flow in the rousing rendition of their national anthem.
There is hugging and crying and the Spanish press refers to a defeat at the hands of Switzerland as a “national tragedy.”
It’s only the first round and there is a long way to go, but already emotions are exceedingly raw.
You have to love it because most of the time we’re used to sporting dramas being played out in courtrooms or at union bargaining tables when gigantic contracts are considered.
As the World Cup turns we’re looking at something bigger than that. This time all the drama takes place on the field of play.
And that’s as it should be.
– Gemini Award winner Scott Russell is the host of CBC Sports Weekend seen Saturday afternoons. He has covered a variety of sports including nine Olympic Games and numerous world championships, and also hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
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