watch. play. learn. world cup 2010.

The curtain closed, songs and prayers were lifted, and picture time began. My spring ballet recitals were never truly complete without the annual photograph of my brother and me. He was sporting his soccer uniform and tournament trophy; I was in a tutu cradling a bouquet of flowers. For the few years that his soccer tournament and my performance overlapped, that weekend in May was hectic, to say the least. While it was unfortunate that we could not all be in the same place at the same time, the tradition of it all, became a comfort. And that nearly iconic moment captured on film, the moment we all breathed a sigh that it was over for a couple weeks, is a precious memory for me.

I never played soccer myself, but I was a faithful supporter. I learned the game over the years watching my brother’s teams. By my sophomore year in high school, I was signing the petitions and requests my friend had initiated for the creation of a girls’ team. And my senior year, I spent the one day I had off during the week from ballet at the soccer field, cheering on the junior varsity, girls’, and varsity teams.

In 1999, I was offered an opportunity to travel with some dancers to Brazil. I knew our time in Belo Horizonte was focused on performances and getting to know the people in community.  But what better way to get to know the community than cheer on the local soccer team!? A friend and I persuaded a few of our hosts to take us to a match, and I will never forget the energy of the spectators and the cultural education of the moment.

It is, therefore, no surprise that my love for dance and soccer have again met at a crossroads this summer.

So You Think You Can Dance is back where it should be: summer programming. (I missed last season almost entirely because it was in the fall and I didn’t have the time to commit to it.) I’m not exactly sure how I feel about bringing back former contestants, it doesn’t seem fair to the new talent. However, I am excited that Mia Michaels will take a regular seat on the judging panel, and I hope Mary Murphy’s squeals will be replaced by quality insights from Mia.

SYTYCD will not keep me from following the World Cup. Considering it occurs only once every four years and has a bit more of a global influence, it is only right I give it my attention. I confess, I know very little about regular play. Between Premier League, MLS, and all the others around the globe, I cannot seem to keep up. Perhaps I could if I had one team or one player. Until the time comes when I pledge my loyalty to such an organization, I will cheer on the sport as a whole.

Here are some highlights and specials that are not to be missed this weekend:

> The month-long tournament kicks off its first round of group play for 32 teams, on Friday June 11th, the opening match to be played by the host team, South Africa, and Mexico. This is the first World Cup on the African continent – a moment in history for sure.

> If you doubt the historical significance, watch this Outside the Lines special on the story of Robben Island prisoners for whom football was a training ground for a future government and better world, people for whom the World Cup echoes the cries of victory over apartheid.

> Team USA takes on England in their first game on Saturday, June 12th on ABC. For more pre-game info, click here.

> Check the schedule for matches including any of the favorites, they are sure to be exciting and prepare you for the quarterfinals round in a couple of weeks.

And a couple of items, just for fun:

> I’ve always loved commercials, aka “the little shows” to my younger self. And here are a few of my favorites to fire you up!

FIFA.

Nike: Write the Future.

Pepsi (Even though I’m a loyal Coca-cola customer.)

> Almost as good as an opening ceremony is a Kick Off Celebration Concert  with the following lineup: Alicia Keys, Angelique Kidjo, Amadou & Mariam, Black Eyed Peas, Blk Jks, Freshlyground, Hugh Masekela, John Legend, Juanes, K’Naan, Mzansi Youth Choir, Shakira, Soweto Gospel Choir, The Parlotones, Tinariwen, Vieux Farka Toure, Vusi Mahlasela. Supposedly be able to watch tomorrow online here.

I should also say that as with any international gathering, especially sporting events, there is a dark and sometimes secret side. Check back soon for more on a very real and very serious issue because “buying sex is not a sport.”

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