When I was a sports staffer, I tended to cover the "other" sports. Tennis, soccer, even bowling, I enjoyed championing athletes who often didn't get as much ink as those involved in more popular sports.
At home, we don't often have the TV on, but I make exceptions. And in a big way. During tennis majors, I like to have my tablet open all day. Similarly, I plan to have a match on in the background as often as I can during the World Cup.
So why might you not be watching the soccer spectacle that only takes place every 4 years? I have some ideas. And some arguments.
1) No one scores in soccer. I agree. But I disagree that it's a bad thing. If you've ever watched an overtime hockey game, you've had a brush with the urgency that can be felt at any moment in a soccer match. One breathtaking run or, conversely, one little mistake, and your team is either on the joyous or heart-wrenching side of a 1-nil match. Does entertainment get better than that? For those who like a view from the edge of their seat, soccer does not disappoint.
2) I don't understand the rule. Especially this offside thing. Here's another parallel to hockey, only soccer's version of offside is even trickier. I'll do my best to explain the rule Cliff Notes-style. If an attacking player is beyond the last line of defense (besides the goaltender) when a teammate plays the ball up the field, said attacker is offside. He can, however, go past that last line of defense any time after the very moment the pass is struck – one example of how critical timing is in soccer. For a far more thorough explanation, click here.
3) I don't know any of the players. Dude. You're reading this blog entry on the Internet. Visit fifa.com and bone up to your heart's delight.
4) I don't have a pony in this race. Not yet, perhaps. But you're likely a resident of the United States, and our national team is as fun to watch as it has been in many years. If you'd like to go your own way, consult your geneology. Maybe you're part British. Australian. Mexican. Maybe you've simply visited Germany and really enjoyed it. Whatever the reason, pick a pony. Any pony. Or don't. It's a beautiful enough game that you don't need a rooting interest to have the hair on your arms stand on end. I'm watching Mexico-Cameroon as I type, and there have been two goals disallowed. It's raining. There's a banner in the backdrop that reads #allin or nothing. Again, entertainment at its finest.
5) Football is our sport. I don't like this fútbol thing. OK, now you're just giving me semantics. There are many reasons soccer is the most popular sport globally. The timing, strategy and sneaky-physical nature of the game make it unique. Besides, you can just call it soccer, if it makes you feel better.
6) There's more diving in soccer than in the summer Olympics. Sigh. Again, I agree. Especially considering that these are debatably the premier athletes worldwide, who shouldn't need to resort to bush-league tactics. But as soon as we (trust me, I'm working on it) embrace that selling fouls is an element of strategy, perhaps we'll be better off for it.
Does that cover it, more or less? Tell me your other reasons. Or feel free to tell me you agree with me. It's happened before.