I can’t believe it but I’ve caught the fever. World Cup fever, that is.
A friend opened a bar in my neighborhood during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. In support of my new local, I logged a lot of time there and watched a handful of games. Although it’s been said this kind of fever is contagious, I walked away entertained but unscathed.
This time, something changed—Brazil 2014.
Maybe my resistance was low. I’d just returned from a road trip where I was out early and up late. If I had to pinpoint it, maybe it began when I somehow succumbed to watching the Brazil vs. Chile match. From there, things just heated up. I found myself crying over Mexico’s heartbreaking loss to The Netherlands, swooning when Colombia beat Uruguay, and delirious when Costa Rica defeated Greece.
In 1994 the US hosted the World Cup. To earn that gig, it had to start a national league. Since then, interest has operated at a simmer but after all these years America’s passion over soccer has finally reached a rolling boil. Especially among younger viewers. This is a great thing. Bars are full with men—and women. This means relationships—platonic and romantic—will be made the good old-fashioned way.
While American football prides itself as the game of this country, interest in soccer looks like it’s truly ready to take the field. It might take Americans awhile to wrap their heads around how a game can end with a tie 0-0, but they’ll get it one day. When the US made it through the group stages, it really set things afire for fans. The World Cup is breaking social media records and the US vs. Belgium match was one of the most Tweeted events ever.
Not that our boys ever had a chance. It’s the one game we don’t own. Unlike South Americans, and other folks who’ve been at it since infancy, it’s not a game that’s in America’s bloodstream and it’s probably going to take a lot more years to get there. Like the gorgeous Brazilian model says in the Kia ad, “In my country, this is futbol.”
But that’s okay. Independence Day is tomorrow and you can still celebrate.
After the United States lost the knockout game, the country’s collective anxiety is gone. So pick a team, sit back and enjoy the quarter finals. Take your passion, have a word with your ego and lose it in another country’s national identity. Hell, you might even find yourself hootin’ and hollerin’ for them.
The only thing more exciting than watching a match is watching the enthusiasm that a country’s fans bring with them to a game. It’s a beautiful thing. World Cup watch parties are being shown in parks from sea to shining sea across this country. Find one and have some fun.
Wherever you are, or whatever your sport, Happy Independence Day.
I’ll be rooting for Colombia, whose goal celebrations can’t be missed!