In case you live under a rock or in the United States, there's a little soccer tournament starting today in South Africa. The tournament, of course, is The World Cup.
Like many, if not most, Americans, I am not a soccer fan. It does not tickle my fancy to watch 22 men run up and down a field for a 90-minutes then play an arbitrary time period to make up for flopping - excuse me, injuries.
The World Cup is different. As soon as you get the entire world focused on a single event, it's worth watching. It's indeed different for Americans and not something the US is supposed to win. But we love an underdog, right? We still talk about the "Miracle On Ice" and scream for Cinderella's in March. The US team could put together an improbable run and win the thing and Landon Donovan would be deified.
But that's not why you should watch. You should watch because this thing is about pride. National pride is on the line in any given match and if you say you're a college sports fan because "those guys are playing for the love of the game" watch the World Cup. Those guys cry over individual matches. They fight tooth and nail for each ball because they know that this is the World's Cup and to win the World's anything means you're the World's best and what can be better than that? Can you imagine being introduced at a cocktail party to someone, "This is Mitchell, he's on the World's best soccer team." Are you kidding me?
And sure, these guys are going to take some dives and not play "like men" while rolling on the grass, grabbing at their ankles. But they're playing with higher stakes than most athletes will ever play for: a nation's pride.
So America, for one month, let's minimally criticize the flopping, euro hairdos, horn blowing, and fandimonium to just watch. Watch in a pub, have a good beer, and chat up a neighbor. Drop names like Onyewu, Dempsey, and Altidore. If nothing else you'll have a good excuse for some daytime - the best time - boozing.
And who knows, maybe in thirty years we'll still be telling everyone about the Miracle on Grass?