Like most sports fans, at times my head and my heart are at war with each other. Never has that been more obvious than during the World Cup this year.
Canada qualified for the tournament for the first time in 36 years. We finished first in our qualifying division, ahead of the US and Mexico, the regional football (soccer) powerhouses.
Anyone who knows the sport knows that the Canadian team is not yet in the same class as the ones from, say, Brazil or England. The chances of Canada making it out of the group stage were slim. After all, last time around the Canadian team failed to score a goal.
Intellectually I know all that. Emotionally I expected Canada to be World Cup winners. Anything can happen in a short tournament. So it was tough to see the team eliminated after just two games. It just didn’t seem right.
Compounding the emotional hit was the fact that Germany, the team I would cheer for if Canada was eliminated, also failed to make it out of the group stage. I have no idea who to cheer for now. Maybe England or the USA. Or maybe I’ll stop following the tournament. No, that isn’t likely – I just won’t be following as closely.
I’m from Ottawa – I should be used to supporting a losing team. The RedBlacks of the Canadian Football League haven’t won a game at home since 2019. The Ottawa Senators of the NHL haven’t made the playoffs in five years. I should be used to the disapppointment.
But hope springs eternal. Must be something about being human. Even when the odds are overwhelmingly against us, we don’t give up.
So, while I am disappointed at the result, I can see that the team did manage a few firsts. They lost all three games, yes, but they scored two goals. That’s more than Belgium, who got their only goal against Canada. The Canadian team will do better in 2026. I am sure of it.
And now I am free to just enjoy the rest of the tournament, marvel at the skill of those playing “the beautiful game” without having any emotional investment in the outcome.
In other words, I can watch with my head, not my heart. It might be more enjoyable.