238 rue Gray
12 July 2010
…Wij houden van Oranje, om zijn daden en zijn doen. “We love The Orange, for everything you’ve done.” Words just as true today as they were Sunday afternoon, back when Holland still had a chance at winning the World Cup. The images to testify to this fact say it better than the famous Dutch song itself.
Just look at the photo — a mere handful of the 120,000 people who packed Museumplein in Amsterdam yesterday, where I spent one long, hot, sweaty day on Sunday and into early Monday, watching Dutch fans watch the World Cup final, helping Reuters Television with their coverage.
The sheer scale is hard to comprehend for an American. We really don’t have nothing like it in the States — where thousands of people gather in groups this size across the country to watch a single sporting event, with so much media hovering around, with so much riding on the outcome.
Why not? We don’t need it like the Dutch need it.
Here’s how I see it: America doesn’t need sport to feel good about itself — we get enough of that in our political narrative alone, not to mention that our music, movies, celebrities, news, and brands are celebrated internationally. But, quick! Name a Dutch politician! Singer! Writer! Actor! I thought so.
Part of why so many people packed into Museumplein is in the lyrics of that song, Wij houden van Oranje. It’s pretty cool to watch a stadium packed with Dutch supporters singing it. There’s a line right at the beginning: Eendracht maakt machtig, Hoe een klein land groot kan zijn — is dat niet prachtig? “United, we’re powerful: Isn’t it beautiful how a small land can be so big?” (Thanks, internet translators)
It was a huge party atmosphere for sure — I’ll post pics on Facebook shortly. Everyone was drunk or high (except yours truly, of course, as I ran cable and camera cards left and right), decked in Orange, and happy as only the Dutch can be. It was a huge party — all to celebrate the Netherlands. Even after the decisive goal in extra time, people weren’t angry. They were sad, and dejected, because it wasn’t their team that suffered the loss, it was their country.
It’s why football will never be the same in America: We don’t understand that it’s not about the sport, but about celebrating who we are as a nation through sports. We do that with our regional teams, and to an extremely limited degree with some high-profile Olympic sports, but not with our national soccer teams.
As much as I wish I could go to a similar watch-party with Americans, I’m not going to say I miss American sports. I would kill to go to a baseball game right now!
Still, I’m so excited to have had the chance to be a supporter of the Orange for a day. Viva Hollandia!