Friday, July 01, 2016

Go, Iceland! Gangi þér vel.

One of the things I most enjoy about sports is it’s so wonderfully distracting – and this is shaping up to be a year when the distraction is most welcome. I’m perfectly capable in parking in front of MSNBC at 7 p.m. and sticking with it until 11, taking breaks only to see what’s cooking on Huffpo, Politico, or Nate Silver 538. But four months and change out from the election, I’m already starting to drive myself crazy.  I wouldn’t mind hibernating until November 9th, waking only long enough to cast my ballot before heading back into my trance. On November 9th, or course, depending on the outcome, I might have to decide on how long I’ll be needing to extend my hibernation. (Four more years! Four more years!)

Anyway, I am taking steps to stop obsessing. I’m watching VEEP, thankful that I had never seen this show until recently. It’s brilliantly funny, and, although it’s about politics (Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the vice president, but she’s just one member of a terrific ensemble), it’s fiction, so it doesn’t drive me nuts. It makes me laugh.

I’m also making sure I have plenty of good books around. Now, I always make sure that this is the (book)case, but I had been slacking off my serious reading and focusing instead on the Huffpo/Politico ephemera. But lately I’ve started to plunk myself down with a good book – my current read is Richard Russo’s Everybody’s Fool (boy, can that guy write) – rather than my laptop and the channel cruiser.

If I am in need of the TV, HGTV (all those house hunter and fixer upper shows) is always good for a distraction. And then there’s sports.

Pretty much every evening, I spend a bit of time with the Red Sox, even when they’re faring poorly, as has been the case of late. But whatever they’re up to, at least it’s not the political scene. Distract away, Ye Olde Towne Team!

For some, the distraction will be the Olympics, but that really doesn’t do it for me. And this year, there’ll be too much Zika talk, and other attention paid to Brazil’s many financial and – yes, indeedy – political ills.

Then there’s the European Championship soccer series. I have watched, and will watch, none of it. I might have turned it on if Ireland had advanced further – they did have a good win in the early going, beating Italy. But then they lost to France. C’est dommage.

Meanwhile, as if England wasn’t having a bad enough week, what without the country Brexiting, the pound plummeting, and Boris Johnson doing whatever Boris Johnson does, Iceland beat their team.

Iceland, which has about 300,000 people. That Iceland.

And now they’ve run into a welcome but unanticipated problem: they can’t get enough of their team jerseys made to meet demand.

Iceland’s national stadium has a capacity of 9,800, and Sport Company had estimated demand for jerseys ticeland shirto be about triple that amount, according to its general manager, Thorvaldur Olafsson. That’s proved to be woefully short as Iceland took off on a surprise run to the quarterfinals, where it will meet host France on Sunday. Poland meets Portugal in the first of the last-eight encounters later Thursday. (Source: Bloomberg)

The Italian company that produces the shirts is working 24/7 to keep up with the demand, which is coming not only from Icelanders – remember, there are only 300,000 of them – but from underdog fans from all over the world. The shirts are especially popular in Scandinavian countries, and the team has even gotten their first order from Greenland. (Population 56,000.) Speaking of population, ten percent of all Icelanders are apparently in France for the series, sacrificing some of the scarce daylight their country enjoys to quite literally follow their team. Imagine that.

Fortunately for those newly following the team, the manufacturers actually manufacture in Italy, so they’re “not depending on a container from China arriving.”

As I said, I probably won’t be watching Iceland take on France. I have filled my distraction quota for now. But I know which team I’m rooting for. Gangi þér vel.

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