(Editor's note: Here's part two of my good friend Tim Landrum's inaugural effort to provide World Cup coverage on 18to88.com. You can read part one here.)
10. There's not any other football on to watch in June
Its the NFL off season. You've gotta get your football fix somewhere. Does it really matter if the ball isn't oblong? Remember, football fans, Indy's minicamp ends June 7th. This starts the "dead zone" of the year where there is no news about the Colts for a month as everyone (reporters included) goes on vacation. The Cup starts June 6. It's the perfect way to burn off a month of sports frustration while you wait for the 2010 season to kick off.
11. US Coach Bob Bradley looks suspiciously like a young Grand Moff Tarkin from Star Wars Episode IV
The US probably won't win the World Cup this year, but by the time Bradley finishes his transformation into the commander of the Death Star we'll be ready to blow up Alderaan, metaphorically speaking.
12. France vs. Mexico is like another Cinco de Mayo
I'm not a history expert, but I know that the Cinco de Mayo has something to do with Mexico kicking the French out of their country and then drinking cheap, frozen margaritas. Mexico plays France on June 17th. Who doesn't want to watch our favorite regional rival upset a woefully under-performing team Frechmen? Don't get me wrong, I like Franc Ribbery and co. as much as the next under-age French prostitute does, but I like to cheer for my neighbors (unless they're playing us, of course). Somebody get me a slushy machine and a bottle of Cuervo!
13. The US Men's National Team is like a multi-ethnic rainbow of awesomeness
Homogeneity sucks. America is a melting pot of peoples and cultures and right now the national team represents the reality of that like not many other things in the sporting world. Jesse Jackson wishes he had demographics like they do: African-America, African-Hungarian-American, Latino, Caucasian, Scottish-American, Hawaiian-Chinese-American, first and second generation immigrants, upper-class, middle-class, working-class. I was going to dig up a whole slew of links for this one, but one of the writers at Pitch Invasion kindly did the perfect piece to point you to just the other day.
14. Everybody loves crazy sports fans
Crazy fans are like Christmas decorations; that's not the point of the event, but its pretty sweet if you go way over the top. The world cup is the ultimate reason for fans to dress up like idiots and go crazy when they see themselves in the jumbotron. There's a certain logic to displaying your national pride by strapping on a string-bikini that we can all get behind. How can you not watch when there's a chance of catching that during a crowd shot?
15. The chance to watch a player transcend the game
The best players in the world step their game up to the next level and that can be a thing of beauty. Two games before the infamous head butt that tarnished the end of his career, Zinadine Zidane put in a masterful performance against Brazil. By the end of the game, the Brazilians looked half-scared to even get close to him when he had the ball. He has since retired from soccer altogether, but the World Cup is where performances like this happen.
16. Because, let's face it, your attention span could use some work
There are no TV timeouts in soccer. In fact, there are no timeouts at all. The clock doesn't stop when the ball goes out of bounds. Its just two 45 minutes halves where the seconds never stop ticking away. Not for injuries, fights, and fans streaking the field. The ref gets to add some discretionary time at the end of each half to make up for any interruptions, but, in general, the play doesn't stop. After being constantly saturated by sports and TV shows that stop the action every five minutes to tell you what to buy, isn't it time to challenge yourself with something that will make you focus? You'll still get all the commercials you can handle before and after the game and during halftime. And if that's not enough advertising for you, every conceivable surface in the stadium will be plastered with corporate logos from around the world.
17. Because you love your family, even if they act weird sometimes
Football and soccer share the same roots, as do rugby (both types) and aussie-rules football. The generally accepted historical narrative is that the modern sport developed out of the Shrovetide mob-football games played primarily in England as far back as the thirteenth century (which are still played in some places). When colonists came from Europe to the New World, they brought their ball games with them. The rules developed slowly and really began to be formalized in schools and universities through out the nineteenth century in both England and America with the result being the distinct sports that we have now. It'd be nice of you to get to know your weird cousin a little bit better.
18. Goals like these
Some are pure joy. Its why the game is watched and how the game is won. They can be pure class or wholly criminal. It doesn't matter if its ten in a single game or the single goal scored in a game in the final moments. If there's one reason to watch, this is it.
Thanks Tim. Tim will be back regularly from now until the end of the World Cup.