The greatest sporting event in the world started on June 9th, and even though most Americans don’t know it, the world is watching.
It is hard to completely comprehend how big the World Cup is around the world because quite simply, it is not as big in the US. According to soccer’s governing body F/d/ration Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the 2002 World Cup was broadcast in 213 countries. In case you’re keeping track at home, only 191 countries are members of United Nations.
To get started, I will take a look at the American national soccer team. Coming off their best finish ever, the Americans look to continue that trend in Germany. I would compare the United States team to the Utah Jazz teams of the 1990’s. The team has great skill, chemistry and confidence, yet is not respected by its opponents.
The John Stockton of the American team is Landon Donovan. He is a distributor and passing machine, and despite his small size, always seems to find the ball. On the receiving end of Donovan’s passes is Brian McBride, the Karl Malone of the team. The tall forward, who plays for Fulham in the English Premier League, always seems to be in the air to head balls in the back of the net.
As a passionate England Soccer and Chicago Cubs fan, I cannot help notice the similarities between the two teams. Both are constant underachievers who never seem to perform on the big stage. English fans are so used to losing and complaining about their team’s efforts that if they actually did win the World Cup they wouldn’t know what to do with themselves.
Every World Cup has its own great story. This year has already proven to be no different. During the second day of the Cup, tiny Trinidad and Tobago drew with Sweden in a scoreless draw. To Americans, this may sound like the height of boredom. How could a game be interesting when no goals are scored?
The reason for the excitement was because not only is Trinidad and Tobago the smallest country ever to qualify, but it was also their first game in the competition. Sweden, on the other hand, finished third in 1994 World Cup and has been in the final four on three separate occasions. T&T tying with Sweden was similar to having CSU’s football team competing against the New York Jets and coming away with a 7-7 tie.
One reason I find the World Cup so compelling is how emotionally involved the spectators are with the game. If Americans were half as passionate about their team as the Dutch or Argentinean supporters, then soccer would catch on faster in the United States.
To find out how great the World Cup is, simply watch the spectacle, and I guarantee you will be hooked. So when you are deciding between Judge Judy and the Price Is Right one morning, turn the channel to ESPN or ESPN2 and find out what you are missing.