It's a time to slough aside the daily drudgeries we all have to wade through; a time to temporarily ignore impending Carney-ian interest rates hikes, delayed TTC trains and buses not running on schedule and a Canadian sports media fraternity that sadly and singularly supports hockey around the clock, much to the chagrin of sports fans who follow the faster growing sports in Toronto and around the globe (basketball, football).
Not to get overly philosophical during this time of great sporting fervor, but do the World Cup festivities really bring Torontonians together, or does it just further expose the divisions amongst us?
I've borne witness to bushels of misguided nationalistic acts across cultures, from Yonge St. to College St. and St. Clair Ave. too. Sadly, what I've seen happen within our not-so subtle neighborhood divisions, a failed pseudo-multicultural living plan at work – there's a Little Everything, or a Town attached to most ethnicities, a Little Italy, Little India, Greek town, Chinatown, Little Portugal, Little Jamaica...the list is endless - is football fans foaming at the mouth, almost exacerbating these dividing lines in our minds, and on our streets.
It's something I was contemplating during the last World Cup, while the flags of a few nation states were being flung in my and my terrified daughter's faces around the Dufferin/St/ Clair area, while I was out shopping with my family.
In fact my 10-year-old daughter Shiloh's lasting memory of that day, is she was wondering why one half-dressed chap in particular was screaming at the top of his lungs, veins bulging out of his neck, editorializing about how a competing nation "sucks", near taunting area residents who happened to be from the competing "enemy" nation.
I'm still not sure why members of many communities drive up and down city streets taunting one another, and why juvenalia reigns supreme for a one-month period. There's cultural pride, and then there's nationalistic tomfoolery, the former I'm more interested in.
In fact, I would suggest that this World Cup hysteria creates an opportune time to educate ourselves on the plight of many of the 32 countries involved - once we have a winner (which will be Brazil by the way), the civil strife continues, and other battles will be fought. For basic human rights. Civil rights.
I’m doing my part this year, on the pitch coincidentally, taking my terrible cardiovascular conditioning and near lifeless legs to go and kick some rock and roll behind to raise monies for the Right To Play organization (members of the media dubbed "The World" are playing against a motley assembly of rock and rollers "The Rockers" to include Broken Social Scene's Brendan Canning and Great Big Sea's Murray Foster in a game called "Put The Boot In" happening during the NXNE music festival), bearing in mind during the World Cup, that for millions of school-aged children in developing nations, the right to play football and engage in sporting activities, which is a great way to boost self esteem and strengthen familial relations, is a privilege. Donate what you can, please, at the link below. A loonie, a toonie, every cent counts. I will personally contact and thank you, every single one of my donors!http://righttoplay.akaraisin.com/p/higgins.aspx
What I'm doing is not that unusual. Soccer has always been used as a political tool, to help even the playing field (quite literally) between the haves and have-nots. So why not now?
In the early 60s African nations forced FIFA, the game’s world governing body, to suspend South Africa because of its racist apartheid policies. In fact, while I cheer on Cote D'Ivoire, Brazil and Argentina, I will in the back of my mind hope that the public funds that were used to build stadiums and upgrade airports, that monies generated by the World Cup will be used to provide proper food, shelter and clothing to all South Africans.
As I watch Mexico advance to the second round, it will be a time to reflect on the draconian anti-illegal immigration measures being put in place in Arizona, a state I will never find a reason to attend. There is life after the World Cup indeed.