Remember last week I promised to take pictures during the Germany-Italy semi-final? I was not able to do that, as my camera was sitting on my desk, next to my laptop. It turned out that was not a bad thing, as Germany lost and the "big party" turned into a long walk home.
It was amazing to be in Hamburg last week during the game. The entire city was quiet. The streets were deserted. People were glued to their TVs. After the game, there was more silence. It was strange. Everyone got up and went home and no one said anything. One young man was clearly devastated by Germany’s loss and he sat on the sidewalk, staring into the darkness. I must admit that I was shocked as well. Until the end, I really thought that Germany would win.
On Saturday I was able to watch the “small final” between Germany and Portugal in the comfort of my own home with the German. Germany won. After the game, I realized that there are several lessons to be learned from sports.
First, sometimes we have to be happy with less. Although winning the world cup is a wonderful experience, the Germans celebrated their 3rd place finish in a raucous manner. Never before had 3rd place looked so good. There is a lot of talk in Germany about pension reform and health care reform. The state provides a lot to its citizens. But it is starting to run out of money. Perhaps people need to be happier with less.
Second, never underestimate the power of sport to bring people together. This World Cup was relatively free of riots and fighting. Hundreds of thousands of people celebrated in Germany’s cities, without causing problems.
Finally, I think third place is better than second place. Just think, France was second and Germany third. At least Germany won its last game.
After the German turned off the television on Sunday night after the final, I looked at him. “What will we do now?” For a month, the world cup was the center of many things here in Germany. It awoke a certain pride in Germans in their country. People here became more positive and open. I just hope that it lasts a little bit longer.