Every 4 years, the world roots for their country and watches with passion the biggest sporting event in the world. Literally hundreds of millions tune in for the opening and the finals with a total viewer-ship of around 26.29 billion expected this year. Only few events, the NASA moon landing, have had such a global impact as the world cup does.
This year, for the first time in history, the World Cup is going to be hosted in South Africa, in the city of Johannesburg at Soccer City Stadium, where ultimately the finals will take place. This will not only be the first time hosting in the country of South Africa but on the entire continent of Africa.
With so much history taking place in the past few years ranging from the election of the first black president of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama to the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice all the way to South Africa hosting the biggest event on the planet, the world cup has become so much more than just a sport.
So exactly what’s not to get excited about in 2010? Even if your country didn’t qualify, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch and root for your favorites. My country got eliminated but that’s okay because there are many other countries I’m excited about watching.
So what about the United States, what’s their interest in the World Cup? There’s some, especially recently but it’s very toned down. So you may ask yourself why the biggest sport in the world almost gets ignored by the most influential country in the world, the United States. There may be a few reasons why soccer hasn’t caught on yet.
Soccer is in the shadows of the NFL
The Super Bowl is the biggest event in the United States on an annual level. Americans love American football, simple as that. Why? It’s a game that’s based on sportsmanship, strength, power, speed, violence, beer, tailgating, pizza, subs, and much, much more. The other plus side to the NFL is watching your local team play and hopefully make the playoffs, and win the Super Bowl.
Americans love violence, they love the brutal contact in football, they enjoy seeing their favorite plays executed and perfected by their favorite players. To them soccer is a very striped down game of football. Soccer loses the contact, it loses the violence, and it just bores the average American.
It may also have to do with the fact that Americans love to portray themselves as strong and powerful. The more brutal, the better. The more physicality, the more Americans shows off their country as all powerful and in country of the entire world.
We’re not Number 1
It’s no secret that Americans love to win as much as they love to compete. It’s always about being the best, being number 1, knocking down the inferior, and establishing ourselves as the king of the world.
If the United States ranks out of the top 10 in soccer, I can see why people may not care so much about it. United States citizens might appreciate soccer more if they were at that number 1 spot, if they were the best at it. For a country that views itself as superior to all other countries, it can’t stand not winning.
Countries such as Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy, France, and England are all above the United States. There is a lot of resentment between the U.S. and some of these countries. A few phrases I heard in the past were; How dare they be better than us? If it weren’t for us, you guys would lose the big wars. We had much bigger struggles than you guys.
Oh ignorance sure is bliss if your an American. A little less hostility goes a long way and just because the Unites States is still the best country to live in, doesn’t mean we have to brag about our superiority.
So we’re not the best at soccer, big deal. These poor countries that we put down deserve to share some of the spotlight and we should let them. They enjoyed things that we have done, why not return the favor and root for them as well as for us.
No big players, low sponsorship, low advertising
Americans love watching Kobe Bryant effortlessly put down a 3 point shot, we love speculating where Lebron James is going to go this year. We root for Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter from the New York Yankees, and we wait yet again for Brett Favre to retire.
It’s certain players that connect us to the sport. These players could be those we know from high school or college, they may be from our city or town, even if they are from our state matters. They amaze us with their superhuman attributes and they stun us when they are caught in a sex or drug scandal.
Soccer is less than ideal because we don’t have amazing players that we could connect with. That all ties up to low sponsorship and advertising. NBA stars get deals from Nike, teams get sponsored by companies like T-Mobile, and the sport gets sponsors from McDonald’s or Taco Bell. Not so much with soccer.
I see hundreds of commercials and I rarely see sponsors of advertisements from big time soccer stars. It makes sense though, no big players equal low sponsorship. Low advertising is another way why Americans aren’t all that interested in soccer. There are a lot of big players who get a lot of sponsors, but they don’t reside in the United States.
Soccer is not that exciting
Not a lot of points in a game, no last second decisions, no organized plays, no hand contact, and others are just some of the assumptions or things Americans have said about the worldwide game of soccer. Soccer fans will strongly disagree.
For different countries throughout the world, the game of soccer is not just a sporting event, instead it is history, unification, and delight among other things. Watching the underdog take on the number one seed and win is plenty exciting in my opinion.
Soccer is almost like one continuous play. Minus the halftime or the occasional foul, the game plays straight through for those 90 minutes. There are no constant stops, timeouts, or organized plays. The plays have already been organized before the game begins and they work like a map in a player’s head.
There are always last second hair raising moments just like in any other sport and hand contact is not as important as it may seem. Still, not everyone will agree and people will continue to assume that soccer is not fun to play or watch.
Just Enjoy the Game
The FIFA world cup is month long event and is more than just a game. Whether people like or dislike it, they should give it a chance. Root for a team and try to understand the game more carefully. If Americans didn’t take everything so seriously sometimes, they would be far less ignorant and enjoy history being made.