The football World Cup used to be the single most exciting sports event, and not just because for a long time it was the only major sports event we would get to watch live. In the years gone by, the then UTV had no live sports. We used to watch ‘Football made in Germany’ when it was a few months old, and the only regular sports programmes were some athletics programs of which didn’t know when they actually place, but we would watch them with relish all the same.
For those that played and enjoyed basketball, every time the USAID showed NBA games a year old at their office along Mackinnon Road the place would be full to the brim, hours before the appointed time.
But every time the World Cup came up, it would be gloriously live, and the government would make sure of that by paying the necessary fees for UTV to acquire the license. So the month or so when it was happening everybody’s life would change. Schedules would change according to the games’ schedule, especially the beginning and the final. Those who didn’t have televisions sets at home became very friendly to those who did, and these were expected to act very valiantly and let anyone who could watch.
Even as recently as the nineties and noughties, watching the World Cup was something special. Men, married or not, would use it as an excuse to either stay out very late at night, depending on where the tournament place, or wiggle out of paying attention to their better halves. Jokers would issue guidelines on how women should behave during this very sacred time that only comes along every four years.
Women, on the other hand, would wonder how the spectacle of 22 grown men chasing a leather ball could be such a big deal (for the record, I’m unfriending any females that comes up with that lame joke again).
Some smart women would counter that the usual schedule of events at home would continue, whether the man was there or not, including bedroom matters. And this year members of the fairer sex are saying that Russia is in the same time zone as Uganda anyway, so no excuse about late matches.
But it has all changed now, because there is live sports on TV every day, at times the whole day. DStv now has 15 channels dedicated to sports (in the early noughties subscription to Multichoice and buying of new decoders always reached a peak during the World Cup).
The English Premier League is the most popular sports to watch on TV, and it happens every year for almost half the year. There is live rugby, tennis, cricket, athletics, golf, motor sport, even horse racing.
And these days you have to clarify which world cup you are referring to, is it cricket, rugby (union or League? Sevens or fifteens?)? Or is it football (some call it soccer)? You even have to clarify further if it a women’s world cup or the men’s. And if it is men’s football, is it the under-17, under-21, or under-23 world cups?
For the record the world cup that kicked off this week in Russia is referred to as the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
But the biggest change is that you can find almost as many women watching sports in pubs as men, it is a rare female that is totally and absolutely against watching sports. But chances are you will be supporting different teams anyway, and that may depend on what the team coaches look like, not how effective the team performs on the field.
During the 2010 world cup that took place in South Africa, a TV commercial used the song very much loved by English fans, ‘Two world wars and one world cup’. In that chant England supporters refer to the UK’s victories in the first and second world wars, and the 1966 FIFA World Cup.
Supporters of other teams point out that while Brazil has own the World Cup five times, Germany and Italy four times, and even Argentina and Uruguay twice, England has only won it once, although it was against Germany. So these supporters use it as a put down to any England fans.
For the record I support England, and I point out to these naysayers that England actually has more world cups than any other country. It has won the Rugby World Cup, the Under-21 and Under-23 world Cups, and even the Women’s World Cup, both soccer and rugby. So there.
I will watch the world cup, especially games when England is playing, and there is a good chance it would at least make it to the quarter-finals. If it does not, a black box on me.