I don’t really like sports. As much as I’ve tried to get into being a great fan, watching a game doesn’t generally hold my interest. But I love the World Cup.
Part of this love comes from my belief that soccer is the most entertaining of all the athletic activities out there. The game is not too long, the action is consistent, and it’s usually played in an outdoor arena.
But what really gets me interested in the game every four years is the unity that this international event brings.
I don’t think I’m breaking new ground to say that America has become increasingly divisive. If you look at the political climate over recent years, things seem to have shifted from semi-friendly debate to all out ideological warfare. With the ever present internet and media, every personal choice one makes is up for judgment – what you eat, how you parent, how you spend your time or money. Even within American athletics, people seem to forget the notion of being a good sport and rudeness is shown to opposing teams, fights break out among fans. There’s you and there’s them, but there does not seem to be much us.
But we are an us – the U.S. – united, despite the fact that we often forget it. And I love the World Cup because, for many of us, it forces us to remember, even if just for a few short weeks, that we are in this together. Democrats and Republicans, Broncos fans and Seahawks fans, Americans of different races and socioeconomic classes, can come together to cheer for the talented men who represent the United States. A common citizenship, a common goal.
Furthermore, it reminds us that we are connected to the rest of the world. When you put a group of men or women on the field, no matter where they’re from or how fierce the competition, they are playing as equals. It levels the international playing field, allowing us to disregard politics and stereotypes for a moment and just enjoy the game.
Once the World Cup wraps up, I can’t say that I will be spending my free time becoming a soccer fanatic. But any event that breeds unity over division, encouragement over derision is something I want to be a part of.
If you haven’t yet caught USA World Cup fever, this video will help: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uEpcfonkt4&feature=kp.