The World Cup is here, and Americans just don’t seem to get it. In real futbol cities, work is cancelled, stores are closed, and games are observed like national holidays. Most Americans go about their day per usual, maybe checking in on Bleacher Report or the handy-dandy twitter sidebar that’s been incorporated for the greatest tournament ever. Sports Center is still acknowledging the MLB games that will never end, the NBA draft, and Lebron’s lack of commitment. The only sports news worthy of interrupting World Cup footage thus far would be Isaiah Austin receiving an honorary draft from the NBA commissioner (Sic ’em, Bears).
It blows my mind that we care just as much, if not more, about Lebron and Melo’s decisions as we do the 23 selected Americans playing for our country on a worldwide stage. It blows my mind that people use the words “slow” and “boring” to describe soccer and then talk eagerly about a recently viewed baseball game in which dad looking guys stand around in their unattractive uniforms and put me to sleep. It blows my mind that people are listening to Serena grunt during Wimbledon on ESPN52 while some of the greatest athletes in the world are competing for the chance to earn their country the recognition it deserves. Basically I’m super annoyed with my fellow Americans for not giving soccer the respect it deserves.
Yes, World Cup viewership in the U.S. has set records this summer, and yes, people are taking off work to
get hammered with their coworkers in red, white, and blue support the U.S. Men’s National Team. These improvements are great- whether we’re creating genuine fans or bandwagon fans, we have more fans. Fans buy things, share news on social networks, and generate interest– FANS ARE FUCKING FANTASTIC! If the girl at your office buys a Clint Dempsey jersey and changes her Facebook cover photo to Zusi’s abs but cheers when we get a “header touchdown,” I invite you to give her a side-eye, but don’t be too mean. She, along with a decent sized portion of Americans, is new to this whole thing. On the other hand, some Americans grew up in homes ruled by soccer- family plans revolved around practice and game schedules, every World Cup was a month full of parties with drunk neighbors stumbling in and out of their homes at weird times, and legendary players are referenced as if they are great-grandparents.
America is a melting pot full to the brim with diversity, so why is it that the world’s sport is just now gaining recognition here?
The decision must be made. Is this a summer fling? Is this a Tinder meetup that’s going to evolve into something more? Is this the summer that Americans will look back on and reference as “the summer I fell in love with soccer,” or is this the summer that will be looked back on as “that one time I pretended to like soccer?”
I hope that this World Cup sparked something in America. Perhaps MLS players will begin receiving salaries similar to those of MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL players; maybe kids will look up to people like Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey; maybe we’ll finally admit that futbol makes so much more sense than soccer.
Let’s make this a forever love.