The excitement that surrounds high profile sporting events is something of beauty.
The attention events like the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA and NHL finals receive is truly amazing. It is a place for people to connect, find commonality and bond with one another no matter race, class, religion, gender or opinions they may have.
This is all well and good, but I’d like to argue the aforementioned sporting events are child’s play compared to what I consider a true, global, cultural and entertaining experience. I’m not talking about the summer or winter Olympics either. However, those are both great events, but the focus is put on the individual in more cases than on a team, or country as a whole; no one country wins the Olympics.
For many reasons, passion, the love of the game, exhilaration, excitement, commitment and many more, in my eyes, not one event comes close to what the World Cup offers.
Soccer is considered the world’s game. It is considered the most popular sport on the entire continent of Africa, nearly all of South America and Europe, and a decent portion of Asia; that is roughly two-thirds of the world claiming soccer as their own.
The great thing about the World Cup is there is one team to cheer for by default, your home country, that is, as long as it made the final 32. Of course I am going to be representing my red, white and blue, but fans are able to keep their options open based on a number of things; what global soccer star they like best, which underdog could make it out of the group stages, what ancestry they might have an many other variables.
The month-long event starting Thursday is something I will admittedly be looking forward to every day. Whether I am sneaking a peak at a live stream of the matches going on while at the office, maintaining Internet silence until I make it home for the day, or strictly planning events in my life around the schedule of pairings I am most excited about seeing.
I remember the 2006 and 2010 World Cups with great clarity. I remember specific games, specific plays and specific calls that held my hopes up high or drove my spirits down into the ground.
You don’t have to be a soccer fan to remember the intense battle between Italy and and France. The head-butt heard round the world from French captain Zinedine Zidane.
And of course, all of the intensity surrounding the United States World Cup appearance in 2010, from a fluke goal against England to losing to Ghana in overtime.
The highs and lows soccer offers to fans and players alike is unparalleled to any other sport. It is something people are truly invested in. It is my hope that the next month will give people an opportunity to introduce themselves to the game if they have yet to be exposed to it. For people who claim to dislike the sport I challenge you to explain why, and I am positive I will have a strong rebuttal. Why not like a sport that has a ‘group of death.’ It is truly unfortunate the the United States was selected into this group, but the match ups between Germany, Portugal, Ghana and the U.S. are going to be must-see-TV in the coming weeks.
I don’t even want to think about the detail that goes into planning an event like the World Cup, all I can say is thank you for offering up this platter of delectable, divine sport for cultures around the world to enjoy.
Soccer is constant. No matter the variable change in weather, location, age, wealth or athletic ability, soccer is something that will not go away, and I am proud to say I am one of the biggest fans of the game.