To study the World Cup viewing phenomenon, soccer writer David Winner traveled extensively, visiting four continents in 2006. He viewed games on monstrously large screens in public streets, as well as in friends’ homes and in pubs. He learned that each culture he visited had a unique way of experiencing the tournament.
During that same 2006 World Cup, I was stuck in the Boston airport while France and Brazil played. A bar had the game on television, and the travelers stood 10 deep outside the packed establishment to watch the beloved Brazilians — that’s who most were pulling for — go down in a narrow 1-0 defeat. While watching the game over a bloke’s right shoulder wasn’t ideal, the energy of the crowd was invigorating. Each opportunity at goal was met with “oohs” and “ahhs.”
Both Winner and I found out that there’s something electrifying about watching the games with a crowd.
Where, then, I asked, can a person in Santa Cruz County find some “atmosphere” of the sort Winner and I experienced in 2006? I’ve sent e-mails and made calls to various businesses I thought might provide a good environment and asked them to describe their World Cup ambiance. Here are some options for you:
**Britannia Arms (8017 Soquel Drive, in Aptos, 206-2260) is a British-style pub that will show nearly all the World Cup games, most live and some recorded to allow for optimal viewing times (i.e., not 4:30 a.m.!). The establishment has 12 TVs and a 12-by-12-foot movie-theater-type screen. Although it’s a pub, all ages are welcome during game times. This will certainly provide a great environment to view the U.S. vs. England on July 12, but Andy, the owner, advises that folks show up early.
**Although Café Brasil (410 Mission St., in Santa Cruz, 429-1855) will show only the Brazilian games, it will be a great place to watch them. The eatery has TVs inside the restaurant, where it will serve Brazilian cuisine from its regular menu, as well as a large screen TV “out back,” where servers will offer barbecue. The management told me the place fills up very quickly, but in the back, there is always room for one more. On June 15, you might want to head down to Santa Cruz to catch Brazil’s opening match against North Korea at 11:30 a.m.
**If you’re working in Scotts Valley and want to catch a game at lunch, let me suggest Tony and Albas (226 Mount Hermon Road, in Scotts Valley, 439-9999). They have great food, are involved in the community and offer a special for the tournament. Just say “World Cup” when ordering your meal, and you’ll save 10 percent. Stop by and pick up a schedule of the games they’ll be covering.
n Of course, you don’t have to go out to get that invigorating World Cup experience. You can make your own atmosphere. The World Cup offers all of us the perfect excuse to invite friends and neighbors over. I plan to ask the players and parents of the soccer team I coach (9- and 10-year-old-boys — go Wolverines!) to come over for a few games. You could even invite some co-workers over for breakfast or an extended lunch — with the boss’ permission, of course.
If you want to be a bit more creative, you could have a thematic get-together in which guests bring ethnic foods based on the countries playing. Who knows? You might like a Vegemite sandwich with a side of bratwurst. You can find out as Australia plays Germany at 11:30 a.m. June 13.
Greg Olson has taught history for 11 years at Baymonte Christian School in Scotts Valley. He has played soccer for more than 30 years and coached for nearly 20. He earned his doctorate in history from Claremont Graduate University in 2008.