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The World Cup is sparking holiday spirit in hospitals


What if you could introduce something to make hospital life a bit more bearable - maybe even some moments of fun? Yeah, I'm talking about the 2022 World Cup.

GRACE FARRIS: So I'm with residents and medical students, and we're going to see patients in the morning. And usually the World Cup, the earlier game, would be on. And it became this wonderful way to put aside some of the medical stuff for a little bit and talk about what's going on in the World Cup.


That's Grace Farris. She's a doctor at a hospital in Austin, Texas, and she says the World Cup has changed the vibe at the hospital.

SUMMERS: Karim El Hachem is a nephrologist and a longtime soccer fan in New York City, and he noticed the same thing at the hospital where he works.

KARIM EL HACHEM: So actually, the game between Portugal and Switzerland was kind of funny because I was doing my rounds and, you know, at the dialysis unit, all the chairs are next to each other, so people can talk to each other. And everyone was - whoever was watching the game was kind of screaming at every goal. And it was like, oh, my gosh, are you serious? Another one? Yet another one?

SHAPIRO: Back in Austin, Dr. Farris says she'd never been into sports before, but couldn't miss a moment of this World Cup.

FARRIS: If you listen to the Spanish broadcast, you become very attached to Andres Cantor. He's, like, one of the Spanish commentators. And he's the one who - he has like a very distinctive rolling of his R's. And then he also is one of the announcers who is most famous for his long goals. And I feel like he has, like, become a part of my life now (laughter) 'cause it's been, like, a whole month.

EL HACHEM: I was rooting for Morocco just because they're the underdog, and they played so nicely. And they're Arabs, and they're from the Middle East and the first country from Africa. So it would have been nice if they kept going. But right now, I'm not sure. I'm going to say I'm rooting for France if it's going to be online because I have parts of my family that are very French, and they love it. And, like, they would be shocked if they read that I'm not for France.

FARRIS: My 7-year-old is a big Messi fan, so I kind of - and I love Argentina, but I also love watching Mbappe play. And I think it's interesting that, I think, Messi and Mbappe are normally teammates. So I think I'll probably root for Argentina, though.

SHAPIRO: That was Drs. Grace Farris in Austin and Karim El Hachem in New York City. And as for you, Juana, who are you rooting for this Sunday?

SUMMERS: Oh, don't make me pick favorites. But I got to say, Messi has quite the story. It's hard not to like Argentina. What about you?

SHAPIRO: I'm going to say that, as a journalist, I'm not allowed to make endorsements.

SUMMERS: (Laughter) Way to hang me out to dry.

SHAPIRO: (Laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Linah Mohammad
Prior to joining NPR in 2022, Mohammad was a producer on The Washington Post's daily flagship podcast Post Reports, where her work was recognized by multiple awards. She was honored with a Peabody award for her work on an episode on the life of George Floyd.
Justine Kenin
Justine Kenin is an editor on All Things Considered. She joined NPR in 1999 as an intern. Nothing makes her happier than getting a book in the right reader's hands – most especially her own.
Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.
Juana Summers is a political correspondent for NPR covering race, justice and politics. She has covered politics since 2010 for publications including Politico, CNN and The Associated Press. She got her start in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Mo., and also previously covered Congress for NPR.