Before you soccer…er…football…jump on that utterly obvious title, just hear me out. I’m here representing the somewhat common American man. One that loves BBQ, beer, baseball, football and kickin’ ass. Soccer doesn’t fit into that equation very often…more like only every four years.
But every time the World Cup rolls around now, I find myself swept up in the excitement and actually devoting days to watching Uruguay and France duel. (I honestly had forgotten that Uruguay was a country.) I’ve never particularly cared for soccer. I played it for one year when I was four and promptly quit after taking a ball to the face. That’s probably why I stuck to sports that involved protective head gear from there on out. That, and the fact that I was terrible.
But the 2002 Cup resurrected my interest of the game. I stayed up for the 3 a.m. start of the U.S.-Mexico second-round match and it was the first time I had been riveted by soccer. I’ll never forget Brian McBride and Landon Donovan and that 2-0 win. And this year I’m all sorts of amped up for the U.S.-England match tomorrow. Why? Well, here are my reasons to love the World Cup after the jump:
1. America the Underdog: Face it: In most international competitions, we pompous, arrogant Yanks expect to dominate everything. We consistently bring home the most medals at the Olympics and are (usually) the class of the sports we care about the most. And that “U.S.A. No. 1!” attitude comes at a cost: We forget how to be underdogs and just how sweet an upset win feels. Being a lifelong, diehard Texas Rangers fan, I’ve learned to cherish what success your teams achieve. Sometimes, it’s fun rooting for someone other than the Yankees or Lakers, especially when coupled with my next point.
2. Feel that national pride. It’s always exciting to feel the rush of patriotism when watching the national team compete. Instead of being divided by cities, states and regions, we’re united as one. And it’s a different feeling than the Olympics, when there are a ton of different sports going on at once. At the World Cup, there’s no dilution of your cheering: everyone is cheering for one team. It also doesn’t hurt that we get to face our oldest of rivals in the opening match. Remember the first time when we took on the Brits as huge underdogs?
3. For the Texans, Clint Dempsey, Jose Torres and Stuart Holden: If there’s not enough national pride to be felt, Texans can get behind three players from the Lone Star State. It’s refreshing to see the state on the world stage, especially when football dominates the minds of so many Texans. But then again, anyone driving through the DFW suburbs on a Saturday will run into a legion of youth soccer players, and it’s no surprise that it’s showing at the highest level of the game.
4. Vuvuzelas: Love them or hate them, those droning, incessant horns that well up from the stands like an angry swarm of hornets are an integral part of the experience. My main question: Do the fans blow them in shifts or do they just go full out the whole time? Seems like someone would pass out.
5. This guy:
And for good measure: U-S-A!!!