“World Cup Fever” is the first part of a three part series: “Dear America.” Look for the second and third installments in the days to come.
World Cup fever has taken the world by storm! Are you watching?
Of course you’re not. Do you even know what the World Cup is? Oh man. Let’s start at the beginning.
There’s this sport called football. Wait – let me back up. There’s this sport called soccer. Actually, the sport is only called soccer in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. The rest of the world calls that same sport football. There is no relation between the football that the rest of the world plays (soccer) and the football that is played in the United States (NFL). Are you following me? Ok. Let’s proceed.
Every four years there’s a competition to see who has the best football team. No no no – it’s not the Dallas Cowboys. Remember, football = soccer. Yes, that’s right. All clear now? Ok, let’s keep going.
So, every four years they have a competition to see who has the best soccer team. It’s sort of like the Super Bowl of soccer, but instead of teams from different cities in the United States, you have teams from different countries all over the world. So really, it’s more like a blend of the Super Bowl and the Olympics, especially since it only happens every four years.
You follow me? Yes? Wow – I’m shocked. Let’s keep going.
Now, you’re going to be surprised to hear this, but soccer is the most popular sport in the world. Yep! That’s right! Soccer! Not (American) football. Not basketball. Not baseball. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world. Teams from 204 countries and territories entered the qualification stages for World Cup. I bet you didn’t even know that there were that many countries and territories in the world, did you?
I love it when I’m right.
Of those 204 teams, only 32 of them actually make it all the way to play in the World Cup! So really, the World Cup is sort of like the playoffs. You follow? Good. I’m figuring out how to speak your language. The United States has a soccer team, and they’ve done quite well. The good ole U.S. of A made it to the Top 32! And then, better yet, they made it to the second round – the Top 16! YAY!
So, could the U.S. actually win this? Well, no. Sadly, the U.S. got knocked out of the contest yesterday by Ghana.
I’m sorry, what? That’s Ghana. G-H-A-N-A. Ghana.
It’s a country. A country in Africa… No, it’s not near South Africa – it’s more toward the top of the continent. It borders Togo, Burkina Faso, and Cote d’Ivoire. Oh lord, why do you have that confused look on your face? It’s a country! Yes, people live there. It’s about the size of Minnesota and they have as many people as Texas!
Yes, they all fit. What? No, there are no African-Americans there. There are only Africans there. What’s the difference, you ask?
I should just give up.
Getting back on topic: it’s a big soccer competition and everyone around the world is watching very closely. All of my Aussie friends are up to date on the latest scores, and our team made it to the Top 32 too! Sadly, though, the Australian team didn't do as well as the U.S. team, so they didn't advance to the second round. Sad panda.
Oh, well, Brazil will probably win. If not Brazil, then maybe Argentina or Uruguay, but I wouldn’t count out the Netherlands either. What’s that? No, Uruguay is not the same thing as Paraguay. I’m surprised you even know what Paraguay is. Oh yeah – it was in that McDonald’s commercial last year.
So, America, tonight when you’re sitting at home watching television, maybe flip to ESPN6 or whatever network normally shows soccer in the U.S. The rest of the world will be watching it, and who knows, you might actually like it a little.