While many of us anxiously await to see how the Americans fare this time around in the allure and heat of Brazil, there are many of us that aren’t as tuned in as they probably should be during this tremendous event where the world is claimed to “stop”. While that notion is physically impossible and would be particularly devastating to life on Earth, the actual claim adheres to that most people pay attention. From the high rises of the world’s richest to the slums right outside the stadiums in Brazil, if you have access to a television, it’s plausible to guess there is a TV with a match on.
But why should you care? You’re an American (a guess) and it’s just another silly sport. Baseball’s still on, right? And sometimes golf? Now that the NBA finals and Game of Thrones have finished their titillating runs, maybe we should just go outside and enjoy the sun? No. I’d love to provide some rationale for you to enjoy the so-called “beautiful game”. The game itself is rather simple, and while it has its strategic complexities and terminology might confuse a modern 6 year-old, most people have the capability of understanding what’s at stake and how to manage one’s viewing experience. Soccer (I’ll be calling it this for the duration of this post, sorry), is a game of tension, drama, and understanding the degree of patience, reward, and excitement that parallels with so many aspects of life. I’m sure a lot of people made a short list giving some reason or another to watch soccer, because it’s “cool” or “hip” or those other buzzwords that those teens are using to inspire readers like you to watch it. Here, I will give you 5 rather unorthodox reasons why you as a unique and valued individual (I care deeply for my readers), should give the World Cup a shot this summer.
- Watching soccer is like watching two artists paint a different picture, at the same time, on the same canvas, trying to create a masterpiece themselves, while also devastating the other’s artwork at the same time – and they only have an hour and a half to do it. Imagine, if you will, the likes of Bob Ross trying to take on Michelangelo (Yeah, I’ll make this silly comparison because I’m a silly person) – duking it out on national TV – happy trees vs. the angels of the Sistine Chapel. We’d all watch, even if we didn’t care about art or the fact that both of these men are dead, and we’d be watching ghosts, which would attract the attention of the entire world, anyway. So for that sake, just think of it as artist vs. artist. Soccer is a creative sport that requires time, build-up, endurance, and just the right amount of flair to separate one side from another. It’s a work of art. You’re trying to create beautiful plays on the ball, and more importantly points, and your opponent is trying to do the exact same thing. The patience needed to build upon the objectives, strategies, and random occurrences that happen in the span of 90 minutes is what separates it from the U.S.A.’s usual sporting agenda – one filled with time-outs, stoppages after single plays, and 2-minute warnings. It says something about a group of individuals who only have one chance (at halftime) to regroup and talk about things. Soccer requires non-stop attention, creativity, energy, and an absurdly large competitive edge.
- However, that last statement really only applies to the players. There remains skeptics who claim that soccer is boring because we as fans must pay attention the entire time, this simply isn’t true. The amazing thing about soccer is that you can! You can tune out right in the middle of the match and do other fun things (play on your phone, sing, talk to the opposite sex, eat, arm wrestle…etc.) all without missing any of the action. For starters, you only have to glance at the TV every so often, as the lulls in the game often run rampant. However, whenever something exciting might seem to unfold, the announcers (who are used to this kind of thing) kindly warn you of impending excitement by getting vocally louder and more excited. Despite the fact that this usually ends with a player missing the net by a wide margin, there’s plenty of time to catch the play, goal or no goal (there’s usually only a few feet or inches that ultimately decide that anyway).
- There are plenty of extrinsic values to watching the “beautiful game”, as well. For starters, watching soccer is impressive to other people. Nobody is impressed that you “couldn’t care less” about kicking a ball around for 2 hours. There is an air of sophistication that comes with watching an internationally-acclaimed cultural phenomenon. Not only does it show others that you in-tune with and care about current events while also being well-informed on the subject matter (and this time it’s sports, not politics!), it also shows others that you probably make more money than non-soccer-watchers.
- Oh my gosh, the tension and the nerves. You can almost taste it. For some reason or another, a lot of these games feel like life or death. If you haven’t seen the ESPN 30 for 30 film about the Colombian soccer player who was murdered after losing in the WC back in 90’s, there is a terrifying precedence in some places: if you mess up, there’s a chance you may die. It’s almost as if you were watching those ancient mayan ball games back in the day where the losers would be sacrificed to the gods. Not sure why you would play, but either way you can feel the suffocating tension. Some teams are just happy to be there, but if a contender loses – they’re ruined, if not by a gun (to be fair, this almost never happens, and should never happen, and is not funny), then by the media. If you think American newspapers are unforgiving, think again – in other countries, even the tabloids write really bad things about you – for either four years, or the rest of your life. So next time you watch a goal being scored to take the lead, take a peek at the other team’s coach/goalie/defender. He may or may not be writing his will in his head, right then and there (remember, not funny).
- I’m strapped for deep content at this point, so I’m prepared to become shallow. If all else fails, I will sell you on sex appeal. I’ve personally never been “turned on” by the male physique (although I do get lost in the mirror looking at myself sometimes – HEY OH), but soccer fans do get to look at some well-built fellas (disclaimer: probably a poor link choice judging by the title, and I didn’t look all the way through so probably NSFW) running around soaking wet in form-fitting uniforms (and see their faces – unlike football), with the promise of a shirt exchange at the end. So there’s that…? However if you’re like me and like to look at females (I promise), during this World Cup you occasionally get a little look-see at the beautiful South American women (NSFW, again) that somehow find their way onto the front row and on to our television screens.
Well those were just a few. Maybe you’re convinced to watch, maybe you’re not – but I will say there’s something magical about being a part of a cultural draw that trumps the Olympics and every other sporting event in the world. Soccer, fútbol, football, or whatever rules the world right now. Everyone’s watching – you should, too. Also, go USA.