(Editor's note: Please welcome my good friend Tim Landrum to the 18to88 fold. He'll be our official soccer correspondent through the World Cup this summer)
As many of you know, the 19th FIFA Wold Cup will kick-off on June 11th in South Africa. In most of the countries that are participating, life will grind to a halt when their team takes the field. If they win, the nation will rejoice. If they lose, they will mourn, some more than others. Some of the most soccer-obsessed countries will slide into a period of depression when their team gets knocked out of the tournament. If previous years are any indication, close to 1 billion people will be watching the final match. I want you to be one of those people. Why? I love soccer and the more people that watch, the more likely that I'll be able to talk soccer with random people that I encounter in Indianapolis. That's definitely a simplification of how I feel, but its not really that far from the truth. In no particular order, I have compiled a list of the 18 top reasons that 18to88.com readers should watch the World Cup.
1. You love America
Foreign readers of 18to88.com can ignore this first one. (Are there any?) Ed. note-Um, yes. there are a lot of us. For those of you that don't know, the USA is one of the 32 teams competing in the tournament. (Although, I imagine that the readership of this blog watches ESPN regularly and if you've been watching ESPN regularly you've likely seen one of the World Cup commercials that are on endless rotation.) If you've ever had a patriotic bone in your body, the thought of our boys competing on the biggest stage in sports should give you goose bumps.
2. Its a great excuse to skip out of work in the middle of the day
South Africa is six hours ahead of the Eastern Timezone. Games will be on from between 7:30 AM to 5PM for a solid month. If you're like me, then you're always looking for a convenient excuse to take a long lunch break.
3. It's kinda like a World War, but with out all of the dying
If you compared international sporting competitions to armed conflicts, then the World Cup would be something akin both World War I and World War II happening at the same time, but with more involvement from South America. The Olympics? That's more like the U.N.
4. Because you like to see bone shattering tackles.
5. Clint Dempsey is raptastic!
Clint Dempsey (aka "Deuce"), has one of the best stories in American soccer. He will be on the field for the US in South Africa and he scores big game goals. Mostly, though, he's known for his skills behind the mic.
6. International soccer is home to a wide variety of fascinating hair styles
Pint-sized Argentine forward Lionel Messi is at the top of his game and is arguably the best-player in the world at the moment. A dominating performance in the World Cup this year could propel him into the pantheon of soccer greats like Maradona, Cryuf, and Pele. Messi moves with the ball at his feet like few other players ever have, like its on a string or pulled in by a tractor beam. He was brilliant for Barcelona this past season (again) and everyone is waiting to see what he'll do in South Africa. Here's a decent goal compilation from this year.
8. Because Thomas Jefferson once said "The tree of national soccer pride must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
OK, so that's not exactly how he said it, and it's a little bit inflammatory, but you get the picture, right? The US has its opening game of the tournament against England at 2:30PM that Saturday. Its the first time that we've played them in the World Cup since 1950, when we gave them a shock, 1-0 upset. Has there been a better reason to root against England since the Revolutionary War? Its not like we get that many opportunities to be on the opposite side of a conflict with them anymore.
9. Everybody loves controversy, right?
The World Cup is run by FIFA, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association. FIFA is to corruption and scandal like Mr. Rogers is to wholesome. The 2010 World Cup already has had all kinds of controversies swirling around, from all sorts of shenanigans in the organizing of the event to unscrupulous handling of the qualifying process in Europe. Its like driving by a car wreck, you can't help but watch.
Part two coming soon.