I've never been much of a sports fan and sport events have not exactly ranked high on my "to do" / "to see" lists. Not even when faced with my obvious obsession with dancesport, which I have always labeled as art rather than sport, despite all evidence that points otherwise.
But every two years I get into this football frenzy which I can't really explain or fully understand, not that I'm making any effort in this direction. I just sit down and enjoy, occasionally wondering how is it possible that something I am not normally interested in keeps me focused for an hour and a half.
Obviously I got really excited over Euro 2012 taking place in Poland and I was looking forward to seeing Warsaw go through a major makeover, becoming loud, colorful, wrapped up in a bubble of energy, the kind of energy that's only perceptible when mass events are spiced up with competitive tension.
What happened on the day of the opening match resembled a ritual performed by the book, following all rules and etiquette from flawless organization to massive mobilization, dress codes, slogans and face paint. This is in fact one of the things I admire most about Poland and Polish people, their ability to get together and support any cause as long as it's a matter of Polish pride. All of Europe was watching, so they had to display a sea of white and red outfits, supporting their team and making the name Lewandowski probably the most uttered word in Poland for one night. To put it in my words, it looked like a perfectly executed choreography, with great technique but no sparks or feeling, and even though from an objective point of view I have to admit they were praiseworthy, the subjective indicators of a good performance were far below my expectations. I remember the matches I saw in Croatia in the main square in Zagreb, the nights out in Bucharest when our schedules revolved around football even though Romania wasn't even playing or the surreal match between Czech Republic and Turkey in 2008, which I watched with C. in a small pub in Brno where I swear the roof was about to collapse from all the screaming and jumping and somehow I expected Warsaw to be ten times better and that's probably why I was so disappointed. Because in the end it all looked like yet another pretext to get senselessly drunk and lie on the sidewalk in the otherwise very posh and exquisite Foksal street which after the opening night smelled like a gigantic open-air toilet.
Then on Saturday the city was back to normal, as if nothing had ever happened, as if people had come out of their houses for an impeccable white-red performance and returned to their lives the next day, oblivious to any other games, results or teams, the only thing that reminded there was something going on were the helicopters and the few Portuguese fans cheering for their team in the pubs that did bother to turn on their TVs. By Sunday I could have easily said that Friday night never happened, as if I was so eager to witness a football championship in my city that I hallucinated one. And if I didn't, then I surely did project all these unreal expectations over it, but that is just another proof that I never learn anything from my previous experiences and never seem to remember that note to self that says "stop expecting things to look the way you thought they would".