If you were an outsider sitting in one of the crowded coffee shops of Ampelokipi after Saturday’s game, you would think that a major disaster had hit Greece. The atmosphere was all sullen faces and sad remarks. Listening to some comments was like listening to victims reporting a natural catastrophe. Someone even suggested the Greek team should pack their bags and leave Brazil now. After the initial bitterness, anger showed its distorted face.
Yes, a lot of people had high hopes for the national team’s showing in the 2014 World Cup and, yes, a loss in the opening game with such a wide score was a disappointment, but losing a game is part of that wonderful sport we call soccer. For most Greeks though, a loss is out of the question.
Later on curiosity took the best of me and I tuned in to a sports radio station where listeners were calling in. The general feeling of the comments was almost the same: That’s it, we’re worthless and we can’t have a decent showing in the fields of Brazil. The 2004 European Cup was an once-in-a-lifetime miracle that will never be repeated. The players went there as tourists. Greek soccer is decades behind and we might as well stop watching the national team. Those were only some of the comments.
Us Greeks get easily disappointed. Thank God we get enthusiastic as easily. For most of us, the line between enthusiasm and disaster is a very thin one. Had we won Colombia, the eleven men in the team would be hailed as top players, heroes, semi-gods. After the defeat, they were just a bunch of losers, indifferent and incompetent, some guys who went to Brazil to show their new tattoos and fancy haircuts (I heard that too).
We do that with our politicians, too. One day we worship them as saviors and the next we want to see them lining up in front of the firing squad. We can travel the length of the emotional range with ultrasonic speed. And during the trip, somehow we forget that there is the other team playing too, and if the other team plays better, they will win. Somehow, we forget that losing a soccer game is not the end of the world.