third place

Dbp_1994_1718_sporthilfe_fussball_fifa-wm-pokalRowan Ricardo Phillips at The Paris Review:

And yet before Sunday’s final, there’s Saturday’s game, which for me carries the same weight—not for its importance, but for the window it provides into the people who play. This will be the third-place game, in which the losers of the two semifinals meet to decide who finishes third and who finishes fourth. Finals are dreamscapes, heavy shimmering things. The spectacle and competition make a final less about its players and more about the game itself; the players fill a void that’s been waiting for them, as even now such voids are waiting in the Moscow of 2018 and the Qatar of 2022. But that third-place game …

While the semifinalists of the World Cup prepare for their games with the taste of victory still fresh, the third-place game is a consolation for losers. Whether you lost 4-0 or to a last-second goal, there you are. There are times when national pride and/or a collective feeling of fleeting opportunity coaxes one final good performance out of a team. There are other occasions in which the semifinal loss still stings too much, a nation having expected much more than third from its team.

In urban planning, cultural studies, and sociology, there’s a concept called third placeinvented by Ray Oldenburg. If home is the first place and work is the second, the third place is an intermediary area to create and foster community—the setting where you hang out and become a regular among regulars—the barbershop or hair salon, the record store, the pub, the bowling alley.

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