Why in sam hell is soccer not more popular in the U.S.? What’s the matter with us? We’re the only country that doesn’t use the metric system (though we tried) and we’re the only country that doesn’t really, truly care about soccer.
Let me rephrase. We care about soccer for our kids. We like them to partake in AYSO and all the yuppie moms feel like they’re cool and different for having their girls playing soccer alongside the boys. That much I get, and coming from that world, that much I can obviously relate to.
It’s true that we’re a product of our environment and with that being the case, when I lived in California I was totally in tune with the Super Bowl and the World Series. After all, even for those of us who didn’t follow football and baseball during their respective regular seasons, the two championship series were reason enough to paaaartay Lindsay Lohan style. With that, what’s not to love about sports in the US?
Truth be told, I do know a thing or two about baseball and had been known to watch entire games all on my own. I can thank an ex-boyfriend who was an obsessive baseball fan for that. But I could never get into football, even though I also ended up having a (different) boyfriend who was ALL about the dumb sport. Frankly, I could never be bothered. It seems so mundane, awkward and … what’s the word I’m looking for … Neanderthal (ish). Clearly not for me.
Now that I live in Chile, I’m taking note of this fabulous little game called soccer (or “futbol” as it’s known everywhere but in the U.S. – go figure.) I don’t know much about the sport, really. I know the basics: one team tries to kick the ball into the goal which is protected by the goalie from the other team. You can’t use your hands, there’s 11 players on the field and halfway through, each team switches sides. Those of you who are experts out there, feel free to correct me and add more insight to my thwarted soccer knowledge.
The real reason I am taking note is because the World Cup starts tomorrow… and starting right now, tonight, the night before, I’m ALL OF A SUDDEN SUPER STOKED on this! Who am I? It’s contagious, what else can I say? First of all, more than half of my social media peeps are talking about it nonstop – how can I ignore that? Second of all, Chile apparently has a really, really good team. At least for Chilean standards and considering the history of Chilean World Cup teams. I hear that much of this is thanks to the new coach, which brings me to the next reason I’m particularly keen to the World Cup lately… my brother-in-law works for Bielsa, the Chilean World Cup soccer team’s coach and I just think it’s SUPER cool to watch the news and catch glimpses of him on tv!
And let’s not disregard the media. HOLY sh*tballs the media is having a field day with the World Cup. Each and every television network has a team in South Africa and they do “special reports” everyday about everything under the sun related to South Africa and/or soccer. We’re spewing World Cup out of our noses and South Africa out of our rear ends. And the department stores are having a ball with advertisements that speak to the consumer who just “can’t possibly watch the games on a small-screen tv.” It will be interesting to know just how many tv’s have been sold since World Cup fever began …
Finally, speaking of frenzy and contagion, even the government is helping out! Chilean Labor Minister has said that her Ministry would like employers and employees to reach an agreement so everybody can enjoy the matches of the Chilean team. Is that insane, or what? Trust me, this is NEVER the case in the US with the Super Bowl or the World Series. The rationale behind this request is that workers will be more motivated to work if they are allowed to watch their national team in the most important championship of the sport. The end result? A motivated employee is a productive employee. But it’s not just the professional world! The Chilean Education Ministry has authorized elementary schools and high schools to allow their students to watch the matches during school hours. To the point that they even suggested starting the school day at 7:15 am. Wha-wha-what? Higher education isn’t about to be left behind either… Most universities have placed big screen tv’s throughout campuses so that students can watch the matches. In some universities they even agreed to change class TIMES so that everyone could watch the games!
If this is what’s going on with “regular” games, I can’t even imagine what Chile will come to if La Roja (what Chileans affectionately call the Chilean soccer team) makes it to the second round!
I’m imagining a “Turn around and go back. We’re closed until further notice” sign at the airport and borders for all new arrivals.