The planet has been taken over by World Cup.
Now here in the United States, the contest of nations is regarded a bit differently than in other parts of the world.
One reason behind this is the oversaturation of our sporting market. We have everything – basketball, baseball, golf, hockey, (American) football, NASCAR.
Comparatively, soccer is brand new here. Many Americans have already chosen a sport they watched their parents cheering for since they were small. Take a look at when other national sports were founded:
- 1869 – Major League Baseball (MLB)
- 1917 – National Hockey League (NHL)
- 1920 – National Football League (NFL)
- 1946 – National Basketball Association (NBA)
- 1948 – National Association for Stock Car Racing (NASCAR)
Major League Soccer (MLS) was only founded in 1996, and is therefore the awkward teenager slowly creeping into the American sport conscious. This is a challenge when you are a nation filled with not one other national sport, but many.
While the national sport selection can be overwhelming, we haven’t even talked about university allegiance. The alma mater of college goers and their kin is often revered as much if not more than your state’s team – which only further complicates fanaticism and may be enough to satisfy an American’s sport appetite.
But dare I say – we have room for more sporting love. I mean, we have hot dog eating contests, clearly we have more sport capacity.
Why isn’t there more space for soccer?
One problem Americans allege is that soccer is a “weak” sport. I can speak from experience, having grown up listening to my older brothers call soccer a “sissy” sport, citing contrarily that NFL is the “real” football. Yet anecdotal evidence aside, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been watching a match only to hear some fan lamenting the dramatic foul-inducing fall strategy of soccer players.
“Oh get up why don’t you?! See Charlie, this is what I hate about soccer. They fall over like a bunch of pussies.”
By the way, BUB, the same thing happens in most other professional team sports. I don’t want to sit here and slam our sports in the USA, but I do want you to think about how each American sport has its own weakness. Many of our sports require much more padding, less running time, more breaks, and therefore can result in fewer serious injuries.
This clumsily segues into a thought regarding our collective thirst for violence – something we should address. Why is there so much hatred for a person who falls in pain? Why is a player held in higher regard when his/her jersey is marked with stains of blood? Or perhaps let’s look at a more specific example, hockey. Why is fist fighting so heavily encouraged in this sport, a sport wherein fighting with fists lends no aid to the final outcome of the game, that is putting more goal-earned tallies on the board?
This points to a much more pervasive issue – the overriding American belief in a need for hypermasculinity in sports. Insults at sports players are phrased in ways that remove masculinity and replace with femininity (let’s reference the aforementioned “pussy” insult), and result in what we now term as toxic masculinity. Cristiano Ronaldo, for example, is a talented world class player who also happens to have well manicured eyebrows. The comments I hear about them are laughable. Who cares if he looks good and does something to keep it that way? What, you have to look like an ogre to be to be revered as a hero in sports? Sure he’s arrogant but I’ll bet you would be too if you were one of the best footballers on the planet.
Ronaldo isn’t the only one who takes heat based on how he looks, and it’s time to lighten up and stop dismissing the sport based on how the guys look. A pretty boy or a handsome defender can be just as tough as their less aesthetically pleasing counterparts.
Finally, soccer wasn’t born here. Americans get really excited about sports that were founded here and I hate to say it, soccer isn’t just our sport. It is the world’s sport, loved by everyone. That is certainly not a reason to ignore it, and actually a bigger reason to love it.
You need to care about World Cup because we can’t be a nation of ignorant, xenophobic Americans. Here are some reasons you should care about World Cup, and you’ll be glad you did:
1. It’s On All the Time
Think of the depression that came over you after the season finale of Game of Thrones. You have another 10 months to wait before you know what’s going to happen to [someone] after you saw [something happen] from [no I’m not giving it away]. But with World Cup there are games on EVERY DAY. And not just every day, multiple times a day! The excitement is non-stop and if you have to work during one of the matches, it’s OK – another one is on its way.
2. USA Has a Real Shot
We haven’t always been very competitive, but we are this time. We have a new coach since our last World Cup appearance in 2010, Jürgen Klinsmann, former player and coach of Germany’s national team. He shook things up a bit in the US squad, putting Clint Dempsey (striker for the Seattle Sounders) and midfielder Michael Bradley (Toronto FC) in leading positions to spearhead the USA charge. Other notables include Graham Zusi (Kansas City) with two World Cup assists and seasoned goalkeeper Tim Howard (Everton FC) who has kept the defensive game for the States alive.
We walked into this World Cup assigned to Group G, ominously nicknamed the “Group of Death.” All of the groups are comprised of 4 teams, and ours was packed with talent: Germany, Portugal, Ghana and the United States. This is one of the toughest groups in World Cup and to the surprise of many, the USA stands a great chance moving on to the Round of 16 intact.
3. The Scenery
Some of you will say, “I just don’t like sports.” Ah HA, that’s no problem for you with soccer. The talent in soccer is not only athletic, but also quite scenic. Note: I’m not one to suggest any level of objectification, ever. These players are well respected in their own right and just happen to, well, take a look below and you tell me that this isn’t the handomest game in the whole wide world.
Now hey, this is an equal opportunity blog. There is plenty of World Cup visual entertainment for those who fancy the ladies. And by the way everyone – you’re welcome.
4. There is No Better Time To Show Your American Pride
As Americans, the international community has accused us of many things. Arrogance, loudness, rudeness. United States Americans – THIS is the time these qualities will play to our extraordinary benefit. We have been training for this our whole lives!
No one knows better than you how to fashion a make-shift Old Glory, no one can cheer as loud as you, and NO ONE knows how to have more fun. Now is the time to show the world you love your country and are not afraid to prove your blood runs red, white and blue.
I am a lover of all nations but there is only one I call home. The country we were born in and the country we were raised in is to me the greatest on earth. This is the one sport the rest of the world watches and it’s our turn to make a mark. It’s time for us to crack those Budweisers, bust out the body paint and make capes out of American flags. Let’s show the world how wonderfully obnoxious, proud and supportive we are of this great nation on the world’s greatest competitive stage. USA!!!!