Paul E. Anna: High Points | AspenTimes.com

Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Vuvuzelas. For ’em or against ’em?

If you have no idea what that question means, then you have not been watching the blanket coverage of the World Cup from South Africa.

“The World’s Game” they call it, and for much of the globe, especially in the 32 countries represented in the tournament, time has stopped while the competition rolls on.

Here in the U.S., not so much. Though our American lads played to a draw with England last Saturday (thanks to some splendid goal keeping by Tim Howard), World Cup fever has yet to reach epidemic proportions in this country. A few American wins could change that, of course, but thus far as a nation we are casting sidelong glances rather than laser stares at the matches.

However, there is place here in the valley, The Woody Creek Community Center next to the Woody Creek Tavern, to be exact, that is a must-stop for those who have caught the bug. There they are showing “Every Kick. Every Game,” as they say, from start to finish on a big screen television. Folks gather daily at 8 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to watch live broadcasts of the matches and then reconvene at 3:30 for a re-broadcast of each days’ opening games, which are played at 5:30 a.m. local time.

All the action takes place back past the coffee and food counter, behind Pickett Huffines’ marvelous and magnificent used books, in what is normally the gallery space but has now morphed into a shrine dedicated to World Cup. The walls are covered with the flags of each participating country and they are rearranged each day to reflect the matchups. There are schedules and rosters, posters and books all extolling The World’s Game.

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This is all a labor of love for Englishman Martin Cooney, the chief cook, bottle washer and lifelong football fanatic at the WC3 Cafe. Hailing from Preston, England, Martin roots for the English, who next take to the pitch at 12:30 p.m. Friday (local time) against Algeria. A must-win if ever there was one.

But don’t hold his allegiances against him, as Martin is a crackerjack guy and a ton of fun to watch a game with. In fact, the whole crew that convenes in the World Cup Room each day are a delight. There have been numerous families showing up to catch a kick or two along with assorted ex-pats from participating countries and the stray Chilean on holiday. Mornings mean coffee and scones from the counter while the afternoon games have seen a few beers consumed; they’re selling some sweet microbrews and assorted imports by the bottle.

It may be too late this morning unless you are reading this very early, but the US of A will play their second game of the tournament today against Slovenia, a nation with a population of approximately 298 million fewer residents than ours. Get down there quick for the 8 a.m. kickoff.

Oh, and about those vuvuzelas. During the matches there is a constant sound, a drone really, that is a result of fans blowing through plastic horns known as vuvuzelas (pronounced voo-voo-zellas). This is, depending on who you ask, either a quaint tradition that is part of The World’s Game, or an unbelievable distraction that makes the broadcasts nearly unwatchable.

I’m still on the fence, but I’m willing to discuss it over a beer down at the WC3.