At some point, every serious American sports fan brooding over a bitter loss has been cheerfully told “Hey, it's just a game!” What a terrible thing to say. Here's a hint: We know it's just a game. Don't patronize us.
But in Brazil, no one says “it's just a game” when the national soccer team bows out of the World Cup — as it did today. It's obviously more than just a game. Life in Brazil revolves around soccer in a manner inconceivable in the United States. “The companies let people go home to watch the games. The schools — you are sent home from school,” says Bernardo da Costa, a Brazilian engineer working on the Peninsula. “It's just so deflating to see them lose.”
Soccer dominance is part of Brazil's national identity. So when it loses — well, what then?