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The Arena World Cup: Or, How I Became a Romaniac For One Day

When watching an athletic competition, it helps to have a stake in the game.  Normally, when I go to Hartman Arena, it is to cheer on the Wichita B-52s.  However, this past weekend, I had a chance to watch my beloved sport of indoor soccer without my usual team. I needed to plant my flag somewhere…and that somewhere turned out to be in southeastern Europe.

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It’s not like I have a life-long passion for the country of Romania. I’ve never dreamed of summering in Timisoara, or hiking through Transylvania (that’s right, Dracula was Romanian). As a boy, I certainly didn’t paper my bedroom walls with portraits of notorious Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

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I will admit to having watched a documentary about the Romanian Revolution of 1989.  Ok, full disclosure: I’ve watched two documentaries on this topic.  I may have perused some online videos showing the aftermath of said dictator’s execution.  I regret nothing.

After further reflection, I suppose I may have been more predisposed towards Romania than the average Joe (a name which does not appear in the most popular 100 baby names in Romania. Razvan is #6…expecting parents, I’m talking to you!)  I do, however, have a significant amount of German blood in my family, which might have led me to root for Deutschland.  Also, I know a little German.

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Val Kilmer movie-related jokes aside, I came to Hartman Arena thinking I would be rooting for Germany.  Mexico was out of the question, as I knew they would have plenty of local fans as it is.  India was a possibility, but I wanted to root for a team with at least a remote chance of winning.

In the end, I’m a sucker for a t-shirt.  So, when I saw that beautiful Romanian yellow for sale, I had to pull the trigger. I couldn’t tell if the Romanian gentleman was joking when he said it cost “20 Quid”.  It was unclear whether he was confusing British money with American money or attempting to increase the price by referencing the unfavorable exchange rate we suffer against the British Pound.  Either way, I spent too much on a t-shirt.

I wasn’t disappointed with my choice.  The Romanian players sang their national anthem loudly and proudly, though without even the most rudimentary vocal skill.  More importantly, their fans chanted with great fervor across the pitch from my seat.

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Several Romanians saw my obviously non-Romanian face walk by on the concourse while waving my Romanian flag and gave me a smile or word of encouragement.  In the end, Romania’s technical skill and obvious experience triumphed over their Teutonic foe.  The Germans did their best, but you can’t expect to win if you only score zwei goals against zee Romanians.

All in all, I’m happy with my choice of teams.  It was a joy to watch the competition between such different countries, and hearing the foreign-tongued chatter on the pitch was a hoot.

So long Romania, next time I’m in Bucharest, I’ll look you up.

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