By Ryan Fleming
When thinking about the amount of time I have been a fan of soccer, or understand the sport, its politics, players and history, one word comes to mind: brief.
Three years have gone by since I first started watching the sport. Sometimes when you watch an event for the first time you find something, whether it be a player, a team or a venue that gets you attached. For me, personally, it was Robbie Keane.
When watching Keane play you could see he enjoyed the game, he loved to score and he had no problem doing it or celebrating his strike afterwards. That’s something lacking in sports today — a love for the game.
Since then I have followed the sport closely from a country that holds it as a second-rate pastime. I’ve done my best to learn who the players were, eventually understood rivalries, different brands of soccer and the passionate following that accompanies the sport. I’ve found my favorite team, favorite players and come to the decision that soccer venues have the best names around.
All of this brings me to the event the world will be watching starting this Friday, the World Cup, and the utter confusion it started to give me.
When I first began thinking about why the World Cup was so important and why it drew such a vast audience, I had no answer. After reading books , articles and watching documentaries I feel as if I’ve almost narrowed it down.
The World Cup is more than a game. It’s a time when all nations can agree on something — putting their differences behind, whether they be political, economical or something totally different.
Years of civil unrest put aside. Economic suffering, nonexistent. A reason to hope and cheer, granted.
The month-long event brings world leaders together, many for the first time, in the same country, witnessing history in the making under one stage.
I’ve read countless articles on why the World Cup is so meaningful and I’ve came to one true solution — the game means so much too so many people. To such an extreme, in fact, that American sports fans would have trouble comprehending. If everyday problems that put so many into depression can be put behind us for a month so an event — a game — be truly enjoyed, it must be special.
Every goal scored starting Friday morning until July 11, will either bring a surge of optimism and energy to perhaps a troubled country or a sense of defeat to a pack of millions. Either way, the World Cup does something that almost no other moment does: it brings us all together. So, when a team scores during the competition, whether it’s your favorite or not, think of what it means to you, to that team’s country. It’s pretty remarkable and that’s something I know for sure.
Ryan Fleming is an editor and writer for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.