For the first time in Williamsburg history, irony is out.
It happened suddenly. People heard America was facing a couple tough competitors in the first round of the World Cup. They wandered down to the local bar to check out the game. They intended, most likely, to keep tabs on the score out of the corner of their eye, eat their deep-fried pickles and drink their Brooklyn Lager, scoff at the number of sissy-dives the players took, and go home equipped with a sufficient understanding of the details of the game so as to be able to have a good fighting chance at winning the game-analysis superiority contest with colleagues at work the next day.
When Portugal scored, people felt an unsettling twinge of angst. This was their team, after all. They didn’t really care what happened, but damn, it would kinda suck if we lost to pretty-boy Cristiano.
But then America scored, and that’s when things really began to change. That felt good. Maybe this silly game wasn’t so silly after all. And by the second goal, people were hooked. All across the most ironic neighborhood in the most ironic borough, people started to care. Instead of watching the game merely to have watched the game, people started watching the game in order to do something strange and unprecedented. They were watching because they wanted to see what happened.
This was a first in Williamsburg history. The entire ethos of this neighborhood is based on the second layer. The second layer is why 1920’s-style bars with dim lighting and bow-tied bartenders are all the rage right now. The second layer is why people drink Pabst Blue Ribbon. The second layer explains the popularity of flannel, and Dylan-esque Wayfarer sunglasses, and Barcade with its old-school Pacman games, and beer gardens, and New Orleans swing-dance bands. All these things have made it so far around the chic-circle that they’ve come back into the mode.
But soccer—and sports in general—resists the ironic embrace. When you’re shouting meaningless encouragements at pixels on a TV screen, or groaning in dismay at a goal scored, or chanting U-S-A! U-S-A! with the masses that have gathered at the local bar to see the game, you’re not doing it sarcastically; you have to be sincere.
And so suddenly, as the US pulled ahead for those gripping minutes until the final seconds of the game, Williamsburg forgot its cynicism and lost itself in the collective effervescence of the game itself. If you forced me to give a straight-faced answer, I'd probably say that's what sports are all about.