I LOVE the World Cup! At any other time you couldn’t pay me to watch soccer but during the World Cup I don’t miss a game. My goal in every WC is to either watch or listen to at least some part of every game. So far, I have only missed one – the opening game (it was a bad day). I even send out a daily WC update email to all of my friends who want to keep up with what is going on but really don’t want to pay that much attention. Granted, the only people on my list are my mom (who doesn’t care and tells me so all the time), my dad (who also doesn’t care but at least pretends to) and my friend who is a sports nut and happily reads anything related. I will say I am a bit shocked every time the WC rolls around that more people aren’t completely glued to the sport, and yet here in the good ole’ US of A people just don’t care about soccer.
Why do I care? I will tell you.
- It is the WORLD CUP. This tournament is one of the very few where the ENTIRE world participates by country. I know we have the Olympics, I get it, but have you watched the Olympics recently? I love it as much as the next guy but so many of the players are bought, sold and traded from country to country that I don’t feel it is a true representation of a countries true athletic potential.
In the WC players leave their professional teams, fly home and have 4 weeks or so to pull together a team of the top players in their country and they need to be a cohesive unit that can then go out and stun the world. That is amazing to me. Sometimes, the egos are to big and a team struggles to come together (we have already seen that in the young team from France), but most of the time just the fact that they are competing in the WC makes them all come together and play as a unified team.
Even better, you get all kinds of teams, not just the dominate countries of our world. Today’s matches are Colombia vs. Japan, Poland vs. Senegal and Russia vs. Egypt. Most everyone knows all of those countries, but do you really know where Senegal is, or should you google that shit and find out? That is the other cool thing….you get to learn geography. (BTW I am totally pulling for Senegal today because I have a friend from there.)
PLUS…watching these guys stand and sing their National Anthems at the beginning of each match just makes my heart warm and fuzzy.
- I find that it sparks my brain like I am learning a new language. Going into each WC I know enough about soccer to be able to listen to the games on the radio and follow along, but I usually have forgotten the finer points of the sport since I don’t watch it regularly. I get to learn it all again as the WC progresses. You learn not only the rules of the sport, but each player and their background. I love watching it also because you can see some pretty amazing shit and that amazing shit always makes me ask “why?” and “how?”.
“How in the heck did he get that ball to bend like that?”
“What made the goalie lunge that way instead of the other way?”
“Was that really a bad crash or are they both faking it?”
Regardless of the question, I am always learning something. That excites me. It is all so new that my brain remains on fire just to see and learn what is coming next.
- And, the biggest reason of all, the WC is happy. It is good news. It is people coming together to celebrate glorious victories. Spectators fly from across the globe to wear colorful costumes to support their team. They laugh, they cry, the scream and make an ungodly noise. They even do the Mexican wave. (As an aside, because it is funny, in 1986 Mexico held the WC. In all the stadiums the fans started doing the wave. Most international countries had never seen the wave and attributed it to Mexico, hence the name the Mexican Wave. It wasn’t until later that the world realized that we had been doing the wave a large sporting events in the US for a long time. Ha!)
During every match the TV always shows large gathering of people back in the home countries of each team. They gather in huge parks and watch the matches together on a large screen. Halfway around the world and huge crowds of people get up early in the morning, or take off from work, or stay up super late just to watch the game with their countrymen and women. When ever their team does something good the crowd goes insane and it is FUN to watch. It makes you happy. You can’t help but be caught up in their joy. Hell, in Mexico after their win against Germany (which was HUGE) the celebrations were so epic that they actually measured on the Richter scale as a small earthquake.
In the US we just don’t have anything that everyone gets excited about in such a way that we could cause a seismic event. We just don’t. But I wish we did.
There you go folks. I LOVE the World Cup. I LOVE it because it makes me happy. I LOVE it because it makes most of the WORLD happy. And lets face it, we don’t always have things that make people come together. Mostly, we work for things that drive people apart. So maybe you will try it now. Just watch the opening of a game, watch the players take the field holding the hands of young children. Watch the National anthems. Maybe even grab a bag of chips and sit and watch a whole match. Maybe you will enjoy it. Maybe you will be swept away, just like me, in all the glory and find that you could be a soccer fan after all.
Oh yeah, ladies, probably you should watch one of Portugal’s games, because you really, really, really, need to watch Christiano Ronaldo in action. Your welcome.