While most people probably know the World Cup is going on, there’s still millions of Americans who haven’t tuned in, including sports fans. As a lifelong player and fan, I’m personally tired of the same old “soccer is boring” arguments and the complaints about the vuvuzelas; there’s no reason for a sports fan to lambast the world’s game because there’s something for everyone. While round robin play in South Africa is almost over, there’s still time to catch do-or-die action. Here’s four reasons you should be watching the World Cup.
- Drama, drama, drama. From the anticipation of the first-ever Cup hosted in Africa to the embarassing, petty tantrum collectively thrown by former powerhouse France, there’s no shortage of powerful narratives and kooky stories surrounding this year’s World Cup field. And North Korea qualified this year, which is kind of like your long-lost uber-crazy cousin showing up at Thanksgiving and wanting to play charades. Did you hear that their fans are Chinese actors hired by Kim Jong Il? And that Kim Jong-il invented an invisible cell phone to communicate with the team? You can’t make this shit up.
- The U.S. National Team is the perfect team to root for. We’re no powerhouses, but the US has come a long way since the late 80′s/early-90′s also-ran years. We’re good enough to play with (and beat) the best, but the success of the program is so young (and so inconsistent), we’re still relative underdogs. The world expects us to advance, but never to win. But 2002′s improbable quarterfinals run proved that the Yanks are, on the right day, contenders in their own right. Think Gonzaga men’s basketball in the late 90′s/early 2000′s: just improbable enough to make it a hell of a ride. We’ve got to win against Algeria Wednesday to advance, making that game a must-watch, exciting match.
- The boring argument doesn’t hold water. So what if there have been ties? One of the most exciting games of the Cup was the controversial 2-2 tie between U.S. and Slovenia. Down 2-0 at halftime, the Yanks battled back to tie the game, and arguably should have won the game after a goal was disallowed on a controversial mystery foul called by referee Koman Coulibaly. To say this game was a thriller is an understatement. If you were lucky enough to watch it in a crowded soccer-themed pub, like I was, it just may have been the most exciting sports moment of the year. I was jumping up and down on top of a picnic table giving high-fives to a man in skintight red, white, and blue canvas pants. I got beer sprayed on me before noon. The South American teams have been consistently exciting and are always fun to watch.
- Speaking of beer…When the Cup’s held in a different timezone, games are on live at unusual times. This year’s games are all held in the early morning and early afternoon. Many bars open early specifically for the cup, and people line up at the crack of dawn to grab tables at their favorite popular pub, and yes, they’ll take a pint while they do it. The World Cup is a perfectly acceptable excuse to have a beer in the morning. Five deep before noon makes the rest of the weekday a veritable adventure.