When I was a boy everything was right. Back then, nights when Dallas was on air everyone watched it; the streets would be empty, TVs would glare at you from neighboring apartments, and the day after everyone would discuss the latest gossip on Bobby and Pamela Ewing. Such were the early eighties in Israel, days where the sole TV channel dictated people's lives. It wasn't just adults; whenever The Wonderful World of Disney was on air at 17:30 us kids would all stay at home to watch the latest adventures of a stray dog.
Things are different now. Between multi channels, DVDs, YouTube and PVRs, TV events are no longer as common as they used to be. We've all grown self centered in our viewing habits. Events that hold an entire nation gripped in front of its TVs, or, for that matter, the whole world, are extremely rare; nothing like the weekly rate of Dallas episodes. Back then the whole world stopped to see who shot JR; if you think about it, the last time the world held its breath in a similar manner was on 11 September, 2001.
The exception that still manages to captivate the world is sports. There's the Olympics, but I dare say the World Cup eclipses it as far as concentration on a single event is concerned. Hundreds of millions watched yesterday as Brazil took itself apart to get beaten by Holland, and most of these spectators were fairly neutral - people that watched the game as neutral spectators. People watching the game to witness not a contest between two teams representing two countries, but rather a world event.
Beyond quality football, I consider this world uniting aspect to be the number one achievement of the World Cup. Much better than 9/11, I am of the opinion we need more of these things to remind us that we're all citizens of this one planet.