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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Poland wins European champion games

Poland wins!

When was the last time you heard those words?

Spoken not with cynicism or cruel resignation to an opposite fate, these words are an apt description of the outcome of Europe's futbol championships. Granted, the Polish soccer team exited in early rounds.

Some two million fans invaded Poland to watch "the beautiful game" and cheer on their teams. A banner sign at the train station invited visitors to "feel like at home." Nobody claimed to hold Poland hostage to an alien political philosophy and, in fact, the Poles ended up feeling rightfully at home in the middle of Europe -- where they belong.

As you know, I don't have a horse in this race. I'm not Polish. I have no Polish relatives to regale me with tales of the golden age of Polish football (soccer) in the 70's, though I do have some friends who try. I'm theoretically neutral.

But it is hard to be neutral about Poland. A partisan by choice, I can only rejoice in this Polish victory. The continent came to Poland and Poland made a good impression and its people feel like they have a rightful place in the midst of things. Politicians solidified their friendships -- can you imagine Angela Merkel and Poland's Donald Tusk cheering together? Fans from Spain and Italy despised one another but loved Poland.

Financially, there are still some bills to be paid. This may not have been marked paid quite yet. But the benefits will continue.

It took a beautiful battlefield, with gorgeous green turf and some defenders keeping the ball out of goal, and some strikers getting it in. But Poland is back in the thick of things and not just for now. There is a renewed spirit of participation and engagement. Poles walk around with their heads just a bit higher and their shoulders straighter. It is the new beginning of a new beginning.

And like we said earlier, how terrific is it that the world came to Poland to fight it out and the trophy was a big shiny silver thing and not the very turf itself.

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