Remember when Iceland’s booming economy tanked in 2008? Of course you don’t. Why the hell would you?
Well, here’s the thing. Even the nation’s citizens don’t remember it any more, because they are drunk now and are going to be drunk forever.
Okay, not forever. In fact, I’d be willing to lay money now that there are some Islendingar out there, roaming the streets of Reykjavik, Paris or Nice, already lading the national team with that most American of notions.
There would be a raft of hot takes (the venereal disease of sports commentary) of how Heimir Hallgrímsson, the national coach/part-time dentist needs to change his lineup and shape for the upcoming match against host France. There would be fevered analysis about how he has been too slow to see the value in Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson. There would be speculative stories about Gylfi Sigurdsson moving to Real Madrid, or maybe Oklahoma City to replace Kevin Durant.
But no, Iceland lives without the ginned-up irritation of perpetual dissatisfaction. It endures without the sense of “Okay, that was nice, but now what have you got for us?” It moves from day to day without the agony of fretting about the fool’s zinc of free agency.
Now what kind of fáránlegt fandom is that?
I mean, anyone can get a third of the population to fly to France to cheer on the boys. And who hasn’t taken another third of the country and stuffed it into the captical city’s main square to watch a match on a big screen?
But fandom without mindless bitching and the insistence of having one’s bitching heard and heeded by perfect strangers – well, it is simply too alien to our culture to understand fully.
While the search for a sporting inheritance of the meek commensurate to this continues even now (and no, the 1960 Olympic gold medal for the U.S. hockey team isn’t it, and neither is the Miracle On Ice), the real story here is how people on this follow a team without aggressively seeking the tire fire in the Lamborghini dealership.
Even Warrior fans in 2015, the happiest people on earth before Leicester happened, leavened their joy with worries that the old Warriors could rise up and foil them at the worst possible moment. Their fears were unfounded, or at least deferred for a year, and now they are gripped by the Durant chase and the Harrison Barnes auction and even Steve Kerr’s continually wonky superstructure.
For them, fun is also spelled “angst,” and it is the way of all American fans.
[RELATED: Iceland bows to their knees, cries tears of soccer joy]
And that says nothing about English fans, who could not have sprinted to their current levels of self-loathing and tentacle-pointing any faster. Manager Roy Hodgson could not wait to beat the reaper’s scythe and resigned during his postgame presser only because he did not have the presence of mind to quit during the match by handing his resignation to referee/dreamboat Damir Skomina (hey, Twitter said he is indeed a dreamboat, and who doesn’t doubt Twitter at times like these?).
And all this atop Britain’s collective garment-rending about Brexit, which meant the Brits left a political entity four days before it was chucked out of the same continent’s most popular amusement. They hate their national team, they demand new coaches and players, and then they will love their national team with the rich frothy delusion of every fan base ever.
Frankly, I suspect Icelanders must look at the rest of the world right as though they are idiots – and that is because they are correct.
But I await the moment when they join the family idiot nations and start asking those hard questions about their freshly underachieving national team. Because you know that’s coming – you just know it.