The group stages of the 2014 FIFA World Cup are complete – two and a half weeks of excitement, drama and disappointment. I won’t go into an analysis of the matches because there are thousands of other journalists who are currently doing that right now. I will merely spend the next few minutes explaining a personal experience which is what I typically use this blog for since I assume that only my Mother and Father actually read this, and, to be honest, I’m sure they just scroll through the pictures to make sure I’m not getting too fat.
First off, I must share my excitement that the US has qualified for the round of 16. They were selected into an extremely difficult group with Germany, Portugal and Ghana and were able to hold their own in each match, clearly earning their way to the next round. As the former Fan Development director for Major League Soccer, I can’t even begin to describe the impact that US’ success at the world stage has on the perception of America’s domestic league. Much more than signing 3 David Beckhams and 2 Thierry Henrys. No offence to David or Thierry, it’s just that nothing screams credibility more than a team with 15 MLS players running down Ghana and the Portuguese national teams.
That’s not what I meant to write about though. I meant to write about personal experiences. The theme of this FIFA World Cup for me is “Late Nights with Libero.” Our office made the strategic decision to forego the multi-day staff retreat to the Himalayas and use the money to buy a flat screen TV to watch the FIFA World Cup. I must admit that it was a brilliant idea which has paid many, many dividends over the past few weeks.
The fact that we know has a massive TV in our office combined with the other fact that I do not have cable in my home, meant that I was destined to be spending long hours at the office working and then watching matches. I thought that it would be a bit much spending 20 hours a day at my office, but this was far from the reality.
In the end, I have had a blast spending the evening with my colleagues and other guests being entertained by exciting matches most nights. What I didn’t enjoy, were those challenging mornings after falling asleep at 6:00am after the 3:30am matches only to have to get up a few hours later for work. All of a sudden, the colleague I was hugging when US scored against Ghana became my worst enemy when he asked me to help him with a power point presentation in the morning a few hours later.
In hindsight, the decision to drop the Himalayas for the flat screen TV which, at first, seemed like a fraternity house decision, ended up achieving the team bonding impact much more than three days in the mountains. Over the last few weeks alone, I must have spent around 200 hours with my colleagues and the fact that I’m looking forward to watching more matches with them means that something is going right with the group dynamic or that the combination of quality football being watched on a massive flat screen TV just makes people like each other more. Either way, I think I'm going to start my own Human Resources outsourcing firm which only surfaces every four years.