The world has two muscular legs up on the United States, and it’s not just because the Americans could not squeak out one World Cup win: World Cup and the sport of soccer are the shit.
As a devoted baseball fan, I never thought futbol could hold my attention like the Oakland Athletics’ green and gold do, but I could watch soccer for hours. With the all the running, fouls, passing and corners, there is always something happening in soccer. The fast-paced nature of the game makes my boys of the Bay look like lazy senior citizens playing shuffleboard at the old folks’ home and I do not understand why more people aren’t watching and playing soccer.
To be fair, the U.S.’s overall professional soccer set-up pales in comparison to those in other countries, especially those who stood a chance of winning in the World Cup. In places such as Brazil, England and Italy – all of which made it out of team play — the best athletes in the country are playing soccer.
Just think how different the World Cup would be for the U.S. if our best athletes weren’t too busy juicing up and riding motorcycles without helmets during the off-season. Just think how different it would be if our favorite athletes were Eddie Smith, Kevin McBride and God-forbid the San Jose deserter Landon Donovan. Although lofty aspirations, just think how different it would be if our youngsters grew up wishing to be the next Ronaldinho or Beckham instead of the next Dwayne Wade or Derek Jeter. Just think how different it would be if every person in the U.S., or even the majority of Americans, were watching every game with bated breath.
It’s a shame the U.S. has the reputation of being a super power in the world but it could not field a team with the same power that our government supposedly wields. While I know many sports fans that have been waking up early to catch the games, America’s backing of the team pales in comparison to other countries.
Not only did Ghana triumph over the States last Thursday to advance to the Sweet 16 of soccer, but Ghana’s support for its players far outnumbered that of the U.S. as well. In honor of the game between Ghana and the United States, the Ghana government declared last Thursday a national holiday. Ghanaians were so stoked about the game that they conserved energy before the game so everyone could watch their team emerge victorious for the first time ever in the World Cup without the fear of the T.V. turning off mid-match.
We don’t have cable at my house so I have been watching the games on the Spanish channel and it’s surprisingly refreshing. The commentators, famed for their drawn out goal calls, could not be more excited to be calling soccer games, regardless of the team. Even if you don’t understand what they’re saying, watching games on Univision is worth it for the goal calls alone. Also, unlike the American broadcasters, these guys are unbiased and do not keep talking about how it was when they played professional soccer.
Even the commercials during World Cup games are better than the million dollar spots during our famed Super Bowl. You can’t go wrong with Nike’s +10 campaign, the best of which has young Hispanic boys playing soccer with a variety of professional players. Another one of my favorites is the Xbox ad that shows fans of all nationalities copying their favorite players and exchanging jerseys with their neighbors. Not only is this a cool commercial, but it also mirrors something else the U.S. is missing out on: connections with other countries. Granted, fans aren’t always friendly, as evidenced by the public fight that broke out between Swedish and German fans last week – but even the World Cup rivalries are bigger and better than any Yankee-Sox bout. I only wish I could be in Germany to experience the mad, crazy environment of 52,000 shouting fans.
So, join me on the other side and check out games of the World Cup while you still can — apparently, it only happens every four years.
Daily Nexus AP Editor Anna Oleson-Wheeler actually only pretends to like soccer in hopes of wooing a certain Gaucho footballer alum.