I went to the doctor the other day. No injuries or illness or anything particularly concerning. Just, annual exam time. Blood pressure, temperature, heart rate all normal. I took some deep breaths and said, “Ahhhhh.” Run of the mill standard screenings that take a few minutes and cost a few hundred dollars. It was all predictable. Except for what came next.
“Have you been having any feelings of depression or hopelessness lately?” She asked me.
I wasn’t expecting this question, so I thought about my answer for a moment before I said, “Yes. Every time I turn on the news.”
My response was meant to be amusing, if not a tad cheeky. But in the days after my appointment, the more I thought about my answer, the more I realized it was fairly honest. Nothing bums me out more than the news right now. And “don’t watch” doesn’t work for me. For starters, I’m a junkie. But aside from that, I don’t see the benefit of willful ignorance. Other than maybe being in a better mood.
Good stuff is happening, itâ€™s just not making the front page or top news block as often.â€ť
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There’s a saying in the news business: If it bleeds, it leads. Tragedy and scandal make for a gripping headline. And unfortunately, there’s no shortage of either at the moment. Our news is a 24/7 cycle of one-upping the last WTF cycle of stories. And my job as a columnist is to offer comment on them. Which, as I realized during my doctor’s mental health screening, does little to keep me sane. Or smiling.
As such, at least for this week, I’m making a concerted effort to find the flipside. Good stuff is happening, it’s just not making the front page or top news block as often.
For starters, the FIFA World Cup is currently underway in Russia. Quite simply, no other sporting event in the world comes close to matching the spirit of the World Cup. The Olympics may garner more attention from global leaders and media outlets, but for all of the countless competitions and choreographed pageantry, the Games don’t come close to the uniting, almost cosmic passion that envelops soccer’s greatest stage. Even the United Nations is jealous of soccer’s unifying force.
Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan once said, “The World Cup makes us at the United Nations green with envy. As the pinnacle of the only truly global game, played in every country by every race and religion, it is one of the few phenomena as universal as the United Nations.”
So far, my favorite headline coming out of Russia is Iceland’s reaction to a draw with powerhouse Argentina. Iceland players and fans celebrated with unabashed joy, as if the team had won both the final match and the lottery. Despite the game technically ending in a tie, by all accounts, it was a win. After all, there are more registered soccer players in Argentina than Iceland has total residents. This is Iceland’s first World Cup showing, and it’s the smallest country to ever qualify. Never mind that Lionel Messi, arguably the best player in the world, plays for Argentina. And the world, minus Argentinians, celebrated with Iceland. They were every fan’s team that day.
There really is nothing more global than soccer. The sport has more followers than any one religion, and it’s more universally understood than any one language. The World Cup is the most-watched sporting event on the planet, and on July 15th, it’s expected well over three billion humans (more than half the planet!) will act in unison as they gather to watch the final.
There was more good news, celebration, and unification coming out of Russian when it was announced the U.S., Mexico, and Canada won the bid for the 2026 World Cup, making it the first time the tournament will ever be hosted by three countries.
Considering how happy these two stories made me this week, I can only hope soccer becomes part of the regular news cycle.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.