You could say that it is always soccer season in Astoria. So many of Astoria’s ethnic communities go nuts over the sport that seems to play perpetually on the flat screens in Astoria’s restaurants and bars.
But every four years, the World Cup ratchets up Astoria’s game to almost comic proportions. The face paintings; the celebratory horn honks; the girls marching in and out of bars in tight, cut-off soccer jerseys; the flags draping car hoods; the simultaneous roars erupting from seemingly every open window and door onto the streets when a shot barely misses the net—soccer unites this hodge-podge neighborhood of mismatched, ugly houses and several dozen languages.
This year, ten of Astoria’s communities made it to the Cup: Colombia, Greece, Italy, Japan, Chile, Ecuador, Bosnia, Croatia, Mexico, and of course, Brazil. I’m sure there are some folks cheering for the United States too. All this enthusiasm is enough to convince a soccer novice such as myself to get sucked in. Heck, I now understand the rules for advancing to the knockout round in case of a tie in group points. As an added benefit, I find that watching and appreciating soccer helps to draw me closer to the diverse people of my neighborhood. A language of sport.
But I have not yet grasped the subtleties of the offside rule. So does that mean that I am not truly obsessed?