It's a weird quirk of American Football that one of the season's least atmospheric games is usually the last.
The Super Bowl is normally played in neutral territory and, despite the fireworks and halftime pop culture orgy, atmosphere inside the stadium is muted by the demographics of the fans in the stands.
The majority of those lucky or rich enough to score Super Bowl tickets are often not the drunken, debauched and tattooed-with-their-team-logo fans who've followed their sides all season. They're advertising executives, bank managers in corporate boxes, middle-aged men who don't scoff at paying eight bucks for a beer but probably don't start Mexican waves, either.
In some ways, the same rule applies to many of the games at the World Cup. Brazil's working-class fans have limited access to their team's matches and, though the canary-yellow-crowds who score tickets are still vocal, passionate and keen, they're just not quite as hardcore as the fans partying outside. The privileged get the tickets but the plebs have more fun.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Fifa is a rich-man's club and, on most levels, the World Cup is a rich-man's tournament. In Brazil, they're rightly cynical of Fifa's tax-free ride, of corrupt stadium contracts and organisational ineptitude.
But to see hardcore Brazilian fans gathering eight hours before their team's match, singing and dancing and blasting fireworks in the street whenever the police weren't looking, was to see the beautiful game at its beautiful simplest.
It's easy to be cynical about the World Cup and to question the copious cash. But to see a shimmer of sporting brilliance on that massive world stage, a flash of creativity, courage or precision, is to witness a moment that transcends everything — business, sport and wealth.
Brazilians consider football art. To play is to dance. Football is pure expression. A person with a ball — what could be simpler or more accessible? As a guy in a Rio favela told me this week, "I don't support the World Cup as a tournament but I always support Brazil".
This might be a rich man's competition, but this is every man's game.
• Jack Tame is on Newstalk ZB Saturdays, 9am-midday.