We’re slowly approaching a dark time on the sports calendar. Both the NBA and NHL season just concluded, football is still a few months away, and the MLB season takes reign as the only sport to watch during the dog days of summer. Hell, you can even throw in the fact that the latest Game of Thrones season has just ended too. But there is a saving grace that occurs every 4 years that saves us from those dark times. That saving grace is the 2014 FIFA World Cup in the host country of Brazil.
So you’re probably thinking that “Americans still don’t genuinely care about soccer.” You’re absolutely right. The general consensus has remained and still remains that America pretends to embrace the World Cup every 4 years. But it’s difficult to ignore all the hoopla of a sports tournament that’s so influential on a global level. During the month long tournament, I’d like to think that Americans casually watch the World Cup as just a trend, as most trends eventually will fade away. In a sense, the World Cup sets itself up as the appropriate time for Americans to denote themselves as ‘temporary soccer fans’. But isn’t our fault that we’re not as fixated on the ‘beautiful game’ as the rest of the ENTIRE WORLD. For many of us, soccer was the sport we were forced to play throughout grade school. For parents, soccer serves as a platform to get their aggression out on little Billy who just kicked their son’s knees. And for hypersexualized men, soccer is synonymous with the soccer mom next door. So how can a sport that’s so popular in middle class suburban America have so much difficulty gaining attention or passion that’s so easily done by football, basketball, and baseball?
We don’t like getting beat
Fact of the matter is, we don’t like getting beat. Soccer is polarizing on the professional level because us Americans just aren’t that good at it as the world’s best players don’t necessarily hail from Kentucky. We feel entitled that the U.S of A should be dominant in almost every athletic sport, unless that sport is called soccer, cricket, or hockey. That mentality is one of the main reasons why we don’t even bother watching a sport that foreigners can kick our ass in. Why should we care about a soccer league that plays across the pond when we can get unlimited Lebron highlights and continuous ways to improve your fantasy football team on ESPN. As long as we’re stuck in our own little bubble and continue to dominate football and basketball, then the rest of the world can have that silly foot game.
Although we should still try to get better
Cultural differences aside, the World Cup is still a spectacular event that places the world’s best soccer players to compete on a global stage. Even if soccer is the 5th most popular sport in America, we should still continue to grow the sport and improve at it, although it has significantly grown over the years and has even built its own cultural following. We’ve seen a wider audience at USA Soccer games as it transitions from an underground culture to a mainstream mainstay. If we want to continue to build this culture, we also need to keep calling the sport soccer and not football. Calling the sport soccer as the rest of the world calls it football keeps it unique for ourselves, and it’ll piss off those futbol ‘elitists’. As long as we continue to love the game of soccer, it can’t be too long until the Yanks start dominating European and South American based teams (one can only hope) right? And if there’s anything I know from the common hardworking American, the men representing the United States at the World Cup this year bring an underdog and blue-collar work ethic that the whole country can get behind. Perhaps this team can redefine the new American (soccer) dream.
This is the perfect time to get overly patriotic. So let’s celebrate with our fellow American brethren, don our red, white, and blue, and support the US National Soccer Team in the World Cup.
Even if it’s for pretend.See some words or phrases that you don't understand? Check out The Dragon's Lexicon.