Monday was my first full day completely off in a while. I did nothing, besides a few daily chores, I settled in and watched all three matches of the World Cup. I wanted to see what all the hype is about. I will admit up front that I am not a soccer fan. I don’t own a jersey and don’t have an EPL team that I root for. I only know the marquee names and what is presented to me on ESPN. I was shocked at my own entertainment level. I hooked right in and was amazed at how the Germans dominated Portugal and left Ronaldo dazed. Iran and Nigeria battled and neither team could come up with the goal to take the game. Watching the team from Ghana warm up, I honestly thought that there was no way the Americans could keep up with these athletes. I sat on the edge of my couch, exacerbated with excitement. What is happening to me? I don’t like soccer. When that header goes in and the Americans take the lead I sprung from my seat and let out a small yelp. Is this just National pride or am I actually missing something from not being a soccer fan? I must be losing my mind.
Here’s what I know. 1. ESPN has done an amazing job presenting the matches. The smartest thing they did was actually hiring real soccer commentators and not someone like Chris Berman, sorry Boomer but you need to retire. The game sounds beautiful. It’s like listening to Peter Allis do the Open Championship, I could listen to that voices’ warm embrace everyday of my life. 2. The players are going hard out there. There is an urgency in every match. One goal could be the difference between moving on and going home. Going home to a lot of these teams is not a great option. Playing for life and death circumstance may be a little overstated but let’s just say that going home as a loser is a little different for a team like Iran than it is for the US. I think to myself, “do these teams always play this hard or is this like hockey? Meaning that the team’s play harder in the playoffs and regular season games aren’t that exciting to the average Joe sports fan?” I really don’t know the answer to that….help? 3. Is there room for someone to become a fan? Soccer fans are hardcore. They love their teams, players and the game. They understand the subtle nuisances of the game and usually won’t take the time to explain and help a novice learn. As the American’s are trying to grow the game in this country, I wonder if we are viewed as a bunch of band wagon jumpers? “This is our sport and you can’t have it!!” Is there room for me in your kingdom?
I will watch the rest of this World Cup with great intrigue. I am hooked. I really contemplate if I’ve missed the boat. Are there others like me out there? Is there a support group? Should I trade in my Peyton Manning jersey? (just kidding Carolyn) Should I pick an EPL team to root for? Or as the World Cup ends, will my interest? I think I will just sit back and let it happen. It reminds me of the first time I enjoyed the taste of beer. It’s not the first time I got drunk, that’s more the feeling I get when I watch American Football but it’s like discovering your favorite IPA. It’s a different flavor that not everyone enjoys and sometimes you can’t really explain it.