The World Cup - If It's OK with Darwin, It's OK with Me
I’m not sure how this happens. I have no TV or radio, but somehow I am aware of this thing called the World Cup. I think it seeps through the outer walls of my place. I have no idea how this works, but somehow I can hold my own in a conversation on the fine points of the US-Portugal match that ended in a draw.
What’s with all these draws in soccer, anyway? And why do we call it soccer and the rest of the world calls it football? Or even futbol? And why doesn’t someone just pick up the ball and run with it?
I have a friend who lives in Connecticut who is a diehard Manchester United fan. Someone should write a doctoral thesis on this.
There are some wider issues wrapped up in this, and I think we call them community and connectedness. We all experience a deep yearning to be part of something greater than ourselves, to be plugged into the rest of the human race and tap into some kind of collective conscious or unconscious.
In Darwinian terms, we were not built to be alone. Our survival has always depended on cooperating as part of a closely bonded group, whether as a family, kinship group, tribe, or village. The more skilled we are in making connections, the greater our chances of passing our genes to the next generation.
Not surprisingly, the most recent evolutionary additions to our cranial hardware and software have to do with our capacity to make these connections. Our exceptionally large prefrontal cortices are all about handling fluid social situations on the fly.
The cortical areas also happen to be directly wired into the more primitive feel good/feel bad areas of the brain. Our emotions are basically telling us to get out and get connected.
The modern world poses a zillion challenges to our stone age social apparatus. It’s all too easy to wind up feeling cut off and alone. We get anxious, we get depressed, we fly off the handle.
Then along comes an event that seems to unite the world, that we can all relate to, even if we have no idea why we're supposed to be relating. As one, we seize upon the opportunity to unite, to connect, to become part of one big feel-good worldwide tribe.
Wait a second. What’s with this bouncing the ball off of their heads? Is this some kind of European thing?
Never mind. Just go with it. Enjoy ...