Culver City Observer -

World Cup’s World Popularity is Astonishing

 


For most of my life I have for the most part ignored soccer.

For a guy living in the land of the Dodgers, Lakers and Rams a sport with seemingly little action didn’t appeal to me. What I saw was a huge field, players running around and rarely scoring a goal.

But my schedule permitted me to watch a lot of the World Cup in recent weeks and I began to appreciate what was going on. Its true there’s only an occasional goal but the near misses are exciting and the athleticism of the participants is truly an art.

Although I believe soccer is a less exciting sport than the major ones we follow in the United States the World Cup has the advantage of nationalism. Whoever invented this concept of nation against nation got it right. The celebration for the victorious teams makes this event special. We watched several games on Univision because I have had some Spanish speaking friends who preferred to watch it that way. The joy of spectators made me ashamed that I had ever considered this sport unimportant.

When the United States played Ghana I found myself watching closely as a fan that was truly hooked. When Germany defeated Argentine 4-0, I marveled at the skill of the young German players.

The biggest events we have in the United States are the World Series, Super Bowl and NBA playoffs. This leaves out the International aspect. Our events are superb as we recently learned when the Lakers beat the Celtics but they did not include the International experience unless you count Paul Gasol from Spain as staring for the Lakers.

I’ll bet Gasol was proud of the team from Spain advancing so far in the World Cup.

The International experience was alive in Southern California when Mexico played a recent game and fans flocked to restaurants throughout the area. The television shows that evening provided tapes of other years when Mexico won. This time there were no celebrations and fans merely went home after Mexico lost. The next World Cup will be in 2014 and this gives all the countries four years to prepare. Many games will be played as the teams select their personnel and hire their coaches.

Along with a lot of joy at the World Cup I felt for the team from Cameroon which had excellent athletes but was eliminated early. I could relate to this as I’ve seen many American teams in either Sport through the years fall far short of their expectations. So it’s the same in almost any sport. The winners celebrate, their followers celebrate and the losers search for reasons why their teams didn’t do better.

Locally the AYSO program has developed and there’s a lot of soccer being played in Culver City and surrounding areas. Many local youngsters grow up playing soccer and it’s good for them to see how far one can advance in the sport by qualifying for a World Cup team.

 

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