I’m officially sucked into World Cup fever

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.

Did you like this? Share it:

7 thoughts on “I’m officially sucked into World Cup fever

  1. After all of your anti-soccer talk, I'm amazed – and glad – that you've come over to the dark side!

    My favorite is that at my company, a reviewer from the US will be in town during the Chile vs. Switzerland game. My boss today sent an e-mail asking if we can please schedule meetings around that game since everyone involved in the process will be glued to the TV. I can just imagine someone in the US getting that e-mail and wondering just HOW unprofessional we are. Nope, just passionate about our futbol.

  2. Ummm.. baseball sucks. Its sooooo boring. But anyways.. here in the US me and my coworkers are all futbol crazy.. but thats probably because I work in the programs ABROAD office and we know whats up! But 4am, 7am, and 11am games are not helping the spirit here!

  3. The reason the government does that is that they know if they don't everyone will just skip classes/work to watch anyways! They might as well make it legal, right?

    And I am so happy you are getting into soccer. I hope you're rooting for the U.S. too!

  4. A personal theory:
    1.- US baseball, basketball and American football competitions are entirely controled by American corporations, not a bad or good thing, just something to have in mind. FIFA, on the other hand, is a multinational corporation, somehow trying to be democratic, and controls soccer all over the world. Maybe that doesn´t fit with the other popular sports in USA.
    2.- The format of the game also differs; soccer has two long (45 mins) rounds, with almost no interruption, but the halftime, of 15 minutes. On the other hand, American sports have more interruptions, which allow more comercial adds during each one.
    3.- Scores in American sports are… massive. Some soccer matches end in a 0-0 tie, and one has to learn to love or understand that, and it´s no easy, if one is used to 130-121 scores of basketball, for example.
    4.- A good sign was the hype around the USA vs England match. People remembered a similar match from 60 years ago, and that´s a good part of what makes the World Cup special. I hope more people in the US could enjoy this game, as everyone else in the world. It´s nice to know that you didn´t like it before, and now you have come to "the dark side", as Emily says.

  5. I think that Marmo's #2 is hands down the largest reason that soccer isn't more popular in the U.S.

    The advertising gods won't allow it.

  6. Advertisers certainly seem to do there best to surround the fields with advertising. It is interesting to think about though, and could be worth a dedicated blog post.

    Anyway, I also think there is a slight generation gap that leads me to believe that soccer will continue to grow in popularity in the years to come.

Leave a Reply