Now that the Boston Celtics have won the “world” championship, eyes are firmly set on the Euro soccer championship. The tournament has already moved to the quarter finals. It is hard to understate the impact of this event on life in most of Europe (and many other parts of the world).
Even if you are not interested in the game itself, perhaps you might enjoy my general observations on the meaning of the euro soccer championship:
• Law of supply and demand: International soccer championships are a special occasion. The European championship occurs only every 4 years. The World championship also takes place every four years. This means that there is always one year of “nothingness” in between each tournament. Artificial scarcity of supply => increase in demand.
• Global warming. Streets are empty during most games. Al Gore loves soccer championships (except victories for Turkey, see below).
• Numbers don’t add up:
o Some small countries (Croatia, Holland) perform really well on a consistent basis even though they have a small population. Most likely explanation: something in the faucet water.
o The distortion of money: one of the very richest soccer leagues in the world, England, has the best teams (see Champions league results) but underperforms on the world stage. One explanation: the money allows them to import foreign players, lowering the amount of national players in crucial positions in the league (beware MLS).
• Soccer & Steroptypes: Germany: it is not always pretty, but the outcome is always efficient. Gary Lineker famously described soccer as a game ” for 22 people that run around, play the ball, and one referee who makes a slew of mistakes, and in the end Germany always wins.”. The German soccer team always manages to beat some of the most stylish, talented teams and advance to the final stages. This years seems no different. In the first quarter final Germany beat an immensely talented Portuguese squad (3-2). The bookmakers (who are also very efficient) favor Germany as the final winner (1/4) of the tournament.
• Flags & Cars: Every Turkish victory (even in first round games) = (equal) “drive by celebrations” in cities across Europe.
• Exams and soccer. June is exam month for students. Also the start of real summer weather. Exam results = studying minus soccer watching minus hot weather.. Resits for exams are in August, a much more quiet time. Same equation applies to grading by professors.
• Nationalism and soccer. Often problematic (see Holland-Germany game in 1988). But sometimes its just plain cheerful (and ridiculous looking). Proof: Holland being covered in Orange colors during soccer championships.