How Much of a Draw is the World Cup?

I haven’t stepped on to a competitive soccer field since I was five years old.  Before my fascination with the FIFA video game series, I had no interest in the game of soccer.  I did not watch one game of the 2006 World Cup.  So, why have I suddenly been overwhelmed by the desire to watch every second of World Cup action?  Maybe it’s similar to the nationwide phenomenon that was the Winter Olympics, and the simultaneous jumping on to the bandwagon that occurred with the U.S. hockey team.  Maybe it’s a slow building sense of globalization that is making its way into our daily lives.  Maybe it is the notion that if I fail to watch, I am missing a worldwide sport spectacle that occurs only once every four years.  Or, maybe the evolution of video games has subtly persuaded me into becoming an actual soccer fan.  But, whatever the reasoning may be, I am proud to proclaim that I am loving the 2010 World Cup.

The real question is, how much of a draw is the World Cup to Americans, and more specifically, to those of us living in the Northeast.  The Boston Celtics are currently one game away from winning their 18th NBA Championship.  The Red Sox are currently four games back of both the Yankees and the Rays, and are arguably playing the best baseball of anyone in the entire MLB.  The Patriots are getting their off season started again and already rumors are swirling regarding Brady’s dissension towards the team (Yahoo is completely fabricating this story), Moss’s desire to get paid, Welker’s knee, Belichick exchanging phone numbers with Boston rapper Sam Adams, amongst many other things.  The Bruins are already making some off-season moves in hopes to further their playoff run in the 2011 NHL season.  So, what time do people in New England have to dedicate to the World Cup?  Aside from die-hard soccer fans, I am hearing little talk about the World Cup as a whole.  But, Americans need to realize the importance of this event.  Soccer is the one game that is bigger than the United States.  Consider if suddenly the U.S.A. was removed from the world, the NFL, MLB, and NBA would immediately cease to exist, and the worldwide importance of baseball, basketball, and football would be severely diminished, if not abolished completely.  The NHL would also obviously no longer exist, but hockey has roots all throughout Canada, Russia, and other places around the world.  Even though hockey would still hold some importance, the NHL is the best hockey league in the world and without that, hockey’s global image takes a big hit.  Soccer is the one sport that would be unfazed by the lack of participation or following from Americans.  Well, unfazed may be a strong word considering that one of the World Cup’s larger television markets must be the United States, but soccer’s global importance is much higher than here in the U.S.  The best soccer players come from Argentina, Spain, Portugal, England, the Ivory Coast, Germany, etc.  The best international teams are Spain, England, France, Argentina, and Brazil, not the United States.  The top talent play their regular seasons in the English Premier League, La Liga in Spain, and the Italian Serie A.  The United States simply does not have a place amongst the great teams, players, or leagues in soccer.

That is the exact reason why the World Cup is something that every American should catch at least a part of.  There are very few instances where the United States is forced to play the underdog card.  This may help explain the popularity of the Olympics.  The United States is not always favored, and people certainly can latch on to rooting for the underdog.  How many people would watch curling if the United States won every single match for the last fifty years?  I would bet that curling would struggle to get televised at that point.  Now I’m ranting, but all I’m saying is that in order to see something that is bigger than the United States (which sporting events rarely are), the World Cup is what you need to tune into.  These countries that play in the World Cup have been waiting four long years for their team to once again have a chance at grasping greatness.  How big would the Super Bowl be if it occurred only once every four years?  So, this week when you get some free time, grab a beer, shut off the cell phone, tell the miss’s to hold off vacuuming or setting up patio furniture for a couple of hours, sit down and take it all in.  Realize the importance of the World Cup to people outside of the United States.  Realize how awesome this next month would be in the U.S. embraced the World Cup like the rest of the world does.  Then, after those ninety minutes of futbol are completed and you find yourself yelling at the television for Lionel Messi to fire off one last shot off his deadly left foot, embrace your new found appreciation and acceptance for a game that spans beyond your hometown bias, beyond your national pride, and realize how great the World Cup actually is.

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One Response

  1. Love the post! One of the things that has really aggrivated me lately is the ignorance of fans in this area, and its probably similiar throught the country. All I keep hearing is how there aren’t enough goals and all they do is fall. Now I agree with the falling part, however its part of the game. I love this time of year, its the biggest sporting event in the world point, blank, perioid. We have a “world series” that consists of mostly american, african american, and latin american players. We have a “super bowl” with virtually all American born players; the world cup is a global event that as Matt points out is much much bigger than the United States. Broaden your horizons people. This stage may not catch your proverbial fancy but when elimination time comes around you have PK’s and teams arent playing for ties. The intesity level will be raised as will the rate of play. This is honestly one of the best teams the US has fielded in a long time. They should get out of thier group and could possibly upset either Serbia or Germany. England and France are not close to as good as they used to be, Italy is aging but have the best keeper in the world. The teams to look out for are obviously Spain, Argentina, and Brazil, but keep your eyes on the Netherlands; they are ranked fourth in the world and they looked solid in their first match and if they can play solid defense (their achilies heel) they have a shot to make some serious noise in this tournament.

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