And it’s over.
After 31 days, 64 matches, 169 goals, 219 yellow cards, 4 red cards, many exciting plays, controversial decisions, the introduction of the VAR, a record-setting 12 own goals scored, and incredible free-kick finishes, the 21st FIFA World Cup came to an abrupt end with the 4-2 French victory in the tournament championship over surprising underdog and crowd-favorite Croatia.
By that point in the tournament, all of my teams had been eliminated. We all know the USA’s fate in this tourney, failing to qualify by losing to that perennial CONCACAF powerhouse Trinidad and Tobago in the qualifying rounds.
It pained me to watch how terrible a soccer team Panama was that was representing our part of the world, and the realization that although we beat them convincingly once in qualifying, we actually tied this team in our second match.
Despite having one of the best defenses in the tournament, the Brazilians fell in the quarterfinals 2-1 to the Belgians, ending their quest for a record sixth World Cup title. Finally, pulling for all of my English friends, I jumped on the England bandwagon as they made it to the semi-finals for the first time since the 1990 tournament in Italy, trying to make sure “It’s Coming Home” for the first time since 1966, only to fall to Croatia 2-1.
Despite having no real team to root for, I convinced my wife to get up at 5 a.m. from the Outer Banks to get back and watch the Cup final with my boys, who had left the night before. I hadn’t watched every game during the tournament, but at least was able to catch 80 percent of them live, so I wanted to finish out the tourney and enjoy the game with my family.
Our Hyundai Sonata had a different plan — about an hour in to our drive, our car decided to take a detour by way of tow truck to a local Firestone, the only thing opened on a Sunday morning in Norfolk, Virginia.
I was able to catch the first half and the controversial handball on the TV in the Firestone lobby, but missed the whole second half as I was able to catch a ride to the airport to rent a car for our ride home.
Although recorded, I have yet to watch that second half where I hear France showed its domination and earned its second title.
But, after a soccer fan’s dream summer, what is one to do now?
How am I to plan my schedule if I’m not able to take a break at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day to watch the games of the day?
It only takes a quick run through the guide on my TV to see how I will fill my sports appetite until the NFL season begins in another month. When we were kids, we had to wait until the weekend to catch the world’s greatest sporting events on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports.”
Now, a simple push of the button can take you anywhere in the world to find just what you’re looking for.
Picking up where the French national soccer team left off, France this week has been hosting the 105th edition of the Tour de France, one of cycling’s three Grand Tours. This year’s version has 176 riders from 22 teams riding more than 2,000 miles in 22 days ending with a ride through the Champs-Elysees.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a bike that actually moves when you pedal, but watching these riders pedal through these grueling conditions battling the fans, the cameramen, the heat and the mountainous terrain is something else.
A quick plane ride over to Angus, Scotland, or a clicker switch from 848 to 811 and the sports fan can jump from the French mountains to the hills of Carnoustie, where the 147th Open Championship of golf, what we Americans call The British Open, is taking place this weekend.
July’s version of the majors of golf has American Jordan Spieth defending the title he won in 2017 at the Royal Birkdale Golf Course in Southport, England.
This week’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game and the events surrounding it, like the Home Run Derby and Celebrity Softball game, provided great entertainment, and that excitement was extended as we watched the “Manny-Cam” to see where the only all-star player the Orioles have left was going to finish out the season and what, if anything, the O’s would get in return.
At some point in the near future, I’ll be back to work like everyone else, but for now I’m going to keep searching for something to take the place of my time spent on the World Cup.
Like author Marty Rubin wrote, “What you do to kill time is your real work.”
I better get back to work.