Even though this is a post to address the heroics of the Dutch National Soccer team earlier against Mexico, I want to start with a rant. I am sick and tired of my fellow Americans bitching and moaning about players diving in the World Cup. Seen an NBA game lately? Half the fouls take place when the offensive player moves into the opponent. And flopping is a term coined for actions committed in the NBA. How many players can even get off the ground without putting their hands out? And don’t even get me started on how many superstars get away with travelling. So enough already. You like that sport. Teams win and lose and everyone has the option to use the rules to their advantage. I’ve seen my teams lose often enough that I feel it was fair to see it go my teams way for once. Especially when talking about The Netherlands in World Cup play.
The great thing about being a sports fan is that it allows you to put all your emotions and hopes out there without the fear of devastating consequences. Everyone can pretty much say that when they follow a sports team they will see their team win or lose. What you don’t know is when you will have that moment. That moment when all seems lost, and quietly you know it is all over for your team, even if you tell yourself there is still hope. That moment is complete when against all odds your team comes back from the dead with a performance of historic proportions. I experienced it as a New York Met fan in 1986, as a Philadelphia Flyer fan when a few years back when they came back from 3-0 down in a series against the Boston Bruins, and then from 3-0 down in game 7 , and I experienced it in this World Cup with Holland’s miraculous comeback against Mexico. At the 85th minute of the game it felt like all was lost. I already knew that I would have no more Dutch team to follow in this 2014 FIFA World Cup. And then, Wesley Sneijder scores in the 88th minute tying a game that seemed lost, and 4 minutes later Arjen Robben makes something from nothing and draws a penalty shot, comfortably put away by Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
Yes I know this is just a game, and I know that these Dutch heroes don’t come anywhere near to matching the Dutch heroes I speak of in the book Jew Face: A story of Love and Heroism in Nazi occupied Holland, but on this day these Dutchmen gave me, many close to me, and millions of other people moments of pure joy only that moment of joy in sports can bring.