Unlike almost every other person on this entire planet, I haven’t followed much of the World Cup. Hopefully you didn’t just read that and decide to leave, thinking I’m a horrible person. The truth is, I kind of feel like a horrible person for not caring as much about it as everyone else. I went to a wedding this past weekend, and for much of the time leading up to the ceremony, all the groomsmen had a laptop and were following the U.S.A. versus Ghana game. I was hoping the U.S.A. would win that game, but I didn’t see a bit of it. I didn’t crawl up behind them and say “oooh, I wanna see, I wanna see!” like almost everyone else in the church. I’d have to say that I’ve seen more people excited about this year’s World Cup than I’ve seen people excited about the Olympic games (Summer or Winter!). Why do you think that is? Why do you think people are so wrapped up in an international soccer/football (for the politically correct out there) competition?
I think I have at least part of an answer for that, and it’s not that people love soccer. Most Americans don’t even know how to spell soccer – there are no k’s in there, regardless of what phonics may tell you. No, I think the answer involves something a little deeper. When it comes to international sporting events, one that I am following right now is Wimbledon. Growing up, I didn’t play tennis, and the only thing I remembered about Wimbledon was that it came on TV in late June and early July, and it caused my mom’s favorite soap opera, Days of Our Lives, to be skipped for those weeks. But in high school I started playing tennis, and I loved it. I wasn’t great – I didn’t even make the team my senior year – but I have grown to love the game more and more over the years. Now I like to keep up with the professional tennis players and the major events like Wimbledon. The great thing about tennis events like Wimbledon is that the competition is between people from almost every country in the world. The #1 men’s singles player is from Spain (or Switzerland, depending on who you say is #1). There are great players from Scotland, China, Austria, Serbia, Russia, Argentina, Croatia, Belgium, Italy, and the Czech Republic. Yep – people from Croatia and the Czech Republic win matches all the time. I can’t even point to those 2 countries on a map! They have to be the biggest underdogs, as far as the number of people and the amount of money they can spend on sports training. Yet they produce winners all the time. And we love to see an underdog pull through adversity and win a major sporting event. The truth is, when it comes to tennis, these players aren’t really underdogs – they are and always have been as good as anyone else out there. The same goes for soccer – most other countries around the world are much more into soccer than we are in America. But we have it in our head that America is the top dog in every aspect – military, politically, financially, and perhaps even athletically. So when we see people from our great country playing in these events, we assume we’re going to dominate. But we don’t! We cheer for U.S. players and teams, but when they lose we usually start cheering for another team. If you’re like me, you’ve chosen a player who’s from a country you couldn’t find a map. Like Serbia. Go Novak Djokovic!
What about you? Why do you think we love international sports so much?