The best thing about the World Cup isn't the soccer play or the drunken Manhattan bar parties at 7 a.m. (though that's pretty promising, too) or even the once-in-a-lifetime spectacle of seeing Mick Jagger and Bill Clinton standing elbow to elbow and whooping it up for the doomed American squad in South Africa.
The best thing is the idea that nationalism really exists, after all.
The Olympics always falls short because of the overtly commercial nature of the games, in the summer and winter. The athletes at the Olympics more resemble walking and talking advertisements for Nike and Budweiser and Coca-Cola than flesh-and-blood competitors.
A gold medal seems to stand more for commercial endorsements to come than years of hard work.
Don't get me wrong. I am in no way a soccer devotee. I couldn't imagine sitting home in front of the tube watching a game — not when a New York Yankees game is also on. Come on. Let's get serious!
What intrigues me about the World Cup? The notion that the world truly does gather for the festivities. When else would you be able to watch Cameroon take on North Korea or Ghana versus, say, Japan? (Just imagine the cursing on the field — how could any of those guys understand a single word from their foes?)
It's enervating to ponder the gathering of the world in South Africa for the month. At meetings ranging from Davos to the G-20 event, nations are trying hard to meet in the middle and promote anti-terrorism ideas and economic growth. It's stimulating to see.
Now, if only the sport was worth watching . . .
Just joking, of course; I'm learning the sport and enjoying the action. The disputed goals were unfortunate but those disappointments were outweighed by the incredible drama of the teams racing madly down the field to pursue a championship.
I never thought I'd say this: Soccer is cool.
But what's much cooler is the point that the nations of the world can gather peacefully.
Jon Friedman writes the Media Web column for MarketWatch.com. Click here to read his latest column.
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