(See Part 1 The World Cup: Get Up, Stand Up!)
Back in Texas, the humble, state-funded university had already adopted & even moved beyond the Sullivan Principles without any help from hardball political operatives like me. Akin to the magnetic inclusiveness of my public high school, the diversity of students and campus culture promoted natural connections, an environment where all ethnicities, races, religions & classes belonged. Which was certainly a relief. For it allowed everyone to focus on the really big, world issues. And funnel their energies into what's most important. Uh huh, that's right, talkin' bout Kickin' It Ol' Skool!
That's where Chris - a guy who made a persuasive political yet somewhat controversial fashion statement by wearing his $5 'Free Nelson Mandela' ANC t-shirt a minimum of twice weekly - made his pitch. He proudly played for "Agony of De Feet," an intramural team composed of mates from such exotic lands as Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Nigeria, Greece, Iran, Cambodia, Mexico, Ghana and California. In the heralded semifinals, this left-leaning right winger earned acclaim by scoring the go-ahead goal on a penalty kick, his cleat striking a glancing blow to the
Once forfeits due to injury exceed the number of actual matches played, it's time to quit. So how swell is it that the World Cup was so accommodating, showing up in our very own backyard just in time for Chris' ankles' retirement party in 1994? The first round-of-16 match, pitting Sweden against Saudi Arabia, proved rather uneventful despite the 3-1 result & those swingin' Swedes' much-anticipated raucous scoring celebrations (e.g., firm handshakes, kindly pats on the back, mischievous hair mussing... Buncha Viking punks). Yet, for us, just being there & sharing in the World Cup communal spirit was a no header. For instance, we gladly paid $20 to discover the 4-wheeling capacity of our Honda Accord when coming to an abrupt, final resting (parking) place mid-wye in our tracks due to all those partially dugout railroad ties crisscrossing the officially sanctioned dirt lot; waited out a thunderstorm in the Dallas zoo's Wilds of Africa aviary (conspicuously absent of football fanatics, who must have been going incognito); and learned why Texas-sized, ten gallon baseball hats never caught on with soccer players. Overall, it served very nicely as a warm-up friendly for Game 2.
Which Chris felt certain would be "the one," Brazil vs. Holland in the quarterfinals. The first half was classic, riveting soccer, a purist footballer's delight: After 45 minutes, still 0-0! Wholly unadulterated by scoring, the definition of "Fantastic!" Thus, given those fraught-with-suspense circumstances, Chris' Whirled Cup Spilleth Over Incident in the 43rd minute was perfectly understandable. Not that he didn't immediately "Beg pardon!" once he noticed the Coca-Cola cascading onto the fellow's head and frothing in foamy profusion under his collar. Plus offer assistance by fastidiously dabbing at the chap's furrowed brow & magnanimously presenting the now-empty souvenir cup to him by way of making conciliatory amends. Momentarily, it seemed, the day wouldn't be a complete loss in terms of real, interactive soccer spectacle! However, the guy was obviously not a legit football aficionado, for no requisite brawl ensued, but merely a miffed & international-mayhem-averting "No worries." Honestly, this WC experience was proving to be quite a let down.
Of course, during halftime, lesser fans found themselves fearing that Brazil was Dunga for. Or perhaps musing, in an offsided sorta way, Wherefore art thou, Romário? But no doubt due to head coach
Turned out, this 5-goals-all-coming-in-the-second-half match was considered "the game of the tournament" (even by those who didn't realize we were there) and led the way to an unprecedented 4th World Cup title for the Seleção!