Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

World Cup time to become true American soccer fans

With the 2014 FIFA World Cup starting in Brazil tomorrow, it’s only natural to want to join in on the intrigue and support for the United States men’s national soccer team.

All over the country, sports bars and restaurants will be packed with soccer fans at record numbers. Some will be diehard fans of the sport, longtime followers of the U.S. men’s national team, perhaps supporters of teams in Major League Soccer or the English Premier League. Many will be first-time viewers, taking soccer’s quadrienniel tournament as an introduction to the game.

But then again, are people choosing to follow the World Cup because they love soccer or because they want to be a part of the growing number of people who think the sport is “underground” and cool?

The month-long event is set to be one of the biggest World Cups in history and a great experience for TV viewers. All around the world people will be cheering for their countries, including the United States, which will face Ghana in the first round.

ESPN has invested more than ever in this World Cup. Every match will be shown live on ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC, beginning with host nation Brazil against Croatia on June 12 at 3 p.m CT.

Granted, soccer is not the No. 1 sport in the United States, so it wouldn’t have the biggest following with Americans. However, in recent weeks “die-hard” fans have surfaced, stating the sport is the only sport for them.

As a person who got really involved in soccer after I started to report on it, I understand the desire to follow something just because it’s the popular trend. Look at the Olympics. How many people follow curling or sailing on a regular basis before the Games? Not that I’m bashing on those that truly follow curling or sailing, but the number of true fans isn’t as many as football or baseball, for example, because it is not a mainstream sport in our country.

Though soccer isn’t truly mainstream, there is still a large following of fans that are more than excited about the World Cup. Major League Soccer draws more in average attendance than the NBA or the NHL. The Seattle Sounders draw more on average than any non-NFL team in the United States and Canada. Their match against the Portland Timbers last year drew more than 67,000 fans.

Those fans should be excited. Soccer is a great sport that shows true athletic ability.

As for those who are what I like to call the “soccer roadies,” the World Cup is one of the best times to learn and enjoy the game for what it is. It’s the world coming together for one of the few international sports around. Despite what some believe, soccer is the most popular sport in the world. But it is not an excuse for some to join the soccer bandwagon for a month just to turn around and not support the sport for the next three years.

For those who have bought soccer memorabilia just to fit in with the hype for the next month, make sure you bought it because you support the sport and are interested in it, not just because your best friend bought a cool shirt and you wanted one too. If you bought it just because it was cool, at least give the sport a chance. It’s more than just kicking a ball around. It’s one of the most basic sports that everyone can relate to and join in on.

Soccer isn’t underground throughout most of the world. Most of the world lives, breathes and eats soccer. It’s the king of sports in a sense. And while it may not be in America, the World Cup is a time to enjoy what the USMNT is doing and be actively involved. It’s time to appreciate soccer for what it is, not for the hype that surrounds it.

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