The World Cup Is the Best Way to Gauge How Old You’re Getting
One of my most vivid sports memories involves Uruguay’s 2–1 win over England in the 2014 World Cup. This is widely considered one of the most crushing losses in England World Cup history, but that’s not why I remember it. I remember it because it happened on June 19, 2014, and I was watching it the literal second my younger son Wynn was born. We induced my wife’s labor, so the doctor came in the room right as Luis Suarez scored his second goal to secure the loss for the Three Lions. I will never forget seeing that goal roughly 75 seconds before I saw my son for the first time.
Wasn’t he cute?
That was eight years ago — eight-and-a-half, actually, because the World Cup is in Qatar this year, which is too hot to play soccer games in June. (Mercifully, for myriad reasons, this will be the last time they play the World Cup in the winter.) Wynn is a lot older now. Eight-and-a-half years, in fact.
See? Bigger now! I mention all this not to just show off pictures of my (very cute) son, but to note how, of all sporting events, the World Cup, both men’s and women’s, is a perpetual marker in our lives, a massive, global event that locks in memories as the years go by. It shows up just in time to let you know where you’ve been, and how old you’ve gotten.
My first World Cup memory was 1994, when I was 18 years old, back from my first summer at college. (I wrote about this for The New York Times this morning.) This was for me, like many Americans, my first real exposure to soccer on this global scale, and I was forever hooked.
The summer of 1998, I’d just moved from Los Angeles to St. Louis, where I worked nights logging box scores on their AOL-specific webpage. (1998 was a long time ago.) I was in a new town and had no friends yet: I just sat alone in my apartment, watching a sport I didn’t entirely understand…