The 2022 World Cup from a child’s perspective

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When the opening games of the World Cup begin, it’s usually the start of summer — a time when I’m enjoying the long hours of sunshine, savoring huge griddles, and wondering how many popsicles are too many popsicles for an adult man to eat in a single day . This World Cup is known to be different. For the first time in its history, it doesn’t start in June; it starts in November. This change is being made because host country Qatar would be far too hot to host the World Cup in the summer.

This decision had far-reaching implications for players, whose club season has forked in a way they have never experienced. for club sides whose seasons are dramatically paused and have to spend six weeks contemplating what to do with their players who are Not Participation in the World Cup (the vast majority of players in the world). It also had perhaps unexpected implications for fans watching games in different environments than we’re normally used to.

For example, I’m just back home in New Orleans for the Thanksgiving holiday, and instead of watching games on a summer patio somewhere in Washington, DC, where I live, I’m watching them at my parents’ house surrounded by my family My two young children have their coloring books, crayons and apple slices spread out on the floor in front of the TV.

My son, the older of the two, has recently developed an affinity for football and is full of questions. Why is the goalkeeper wearing a different colored jersey? What does offside mean? How can someone play for Arsenal and USA at the same time?

As we sat down and prepared to watch the US men’s team play Wales in their first World Cup game in more than eight years, my five-year-old son stared at the television in confusion.

“Where’s the Wales team?” he turned and asked.

“They’ll be right there,” I said, pointing to the men in red belting out their national anthem.

“These are normal people,” he said, shaking his head.

That was at that moment I realized There was a misunderstanding:

He was further offended to discover that the team wasn’t even called “the whales” and found it bizarre and nonsensical that they had an image of a dragon on their crest instead of a whale.

Sharing his opinions on Twitter invited all sorts of people to share their own homophonic misconceptions as kids.

Novelist Brandon Taylor wrote: “Cut to me as a kid in elementary school when I thought Diana was the princess of the whales and had the power to communicate with sea creatures.”

the previous Danger Master Buzzy Cohen divided his own childhood misconception of a trip to Miami:

Other divided how their understanding of guerrilla warfare was innocently misguided:

There were dozens of such examples. They put a smile on my face.

I also mention these because such a moment would not be possible if the tournament were held in its traditional season. It would have taken place this past summer and my son would have been at his pre-K summer camp. Instead we are here at my parents house, a few days before Thanksgiving, my son asks questions every 30 seconds to make sense of this game his dad loves, his younger sister is lying on my lap with a bag of fruit in her mouth, while I’m typing this with one hand.

The World Cup should of course never have taken place in Qatar, but if you’re looking for an advantage, the timing of the tournament offers a unique opportunity to share moments that otherwise would not have happened.


Hear Clint Smith talk about his complicated feelings about football in a special episode of Radio Atlantic:

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