Monday, June 14, 2010

7 Reasons Why You Should Watch The World Cup

The 'Off Sides' rule is one of the trickier in sport, and I think a large reason why many Americans fail to understand soccer and its low-scoring yield. This makes it an odd choice for my #7 reason to watch the World Cup tournament. That being said, I feel once properly understood, this rule can be greatly appreciated for the clever tactics players must adopt to work stealthily around it.

In a nutshell, the rule currently states that at the time a pass is made in the opponents half of the field, any offensive player actively involved in the play must be equal with or behind the 2nd defender on the field (the 1st being the goalie).
-----This necessitates teamwork, strategic positioning, and most importantly, precisely-timed cuts and passes.
-----It eliminates 'cherry picking'
-----It makes the SIDES of the field the most strategic area as opposed to the CENTER. From the sides, the ball can be kicked across the front of the goal while 'on-side' players try to dart ahead of their defenders in an effort to make contact and hopefully deflect the ball in. This brings me to the next reason to watch...


The goals in the World Cup are often breathtaking; often a thing of beauty to behold. It's true, it doesn't happen many times throughout the game (usually just once or twice), but this adds to the pent-up excitement and euphoria when it does. Because of the difficulty involved in achieving one, and the dramatic dynamics created by the 'off-sides' criterion, the emotional reward for a goal is higher than almost any other in sport.


Whether it be really annoying horns, or incessant national chants, or just the ugliest costumes you've ever seen, the fans at world soccer events are extremely entertaining to say the least and bring an indescribable intensity to the games. Even watching on TV, one can sense the electric excitement in the air, rising and falling with each play.


Because the soccer game is divided in to two 45-minute halves in which play never ceases, commercials during game play would be unheard of. It's extremely refreshing to watch 45 uninterrupted minutes of play.


This rule wont engage until the later rounds of the tournament, but when it does, there is hardly a more exciting conclusion in all of sport. With the chance for ties removed, the exhausted players are given alternating opportunities to go one-on-one with the goalie and win the game for their team. Beyond thrilling!


Any global sporting event that occurs once every 4 years should at the very least peak your interest because it means you'll only have the opportunity to see about 20 of these in your life. It takes an insanely colossal amount of planning and work for host nations to prep for these events; for adequate infrastructure to be built. Similarly, national teams go through rigorous selection processes to elect their final roster, and there are numerous preliminary games throughout the year to determine which 32 nations actually qualify. The tournament is a huge culmination of these efforts and truly grand in scale.


Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, and the World Cup is its crowning crescendo. It is by FAR the most exciting and meaningful event in the sport, and THAT would be true if it happened EVERY SINGLE YEAR, much less every 4!!! You have the best players in the world playing not for the team they were drafted to or for a paycheck, but for the pride of their country and for glory. You have the most fanatical, international crowds you've ever seen rooting not for their favorite player or squad, but for national pride on the world stage. If you are a fan of sports AT ALL, you should be watching this event with great attentiveness and enthusiasm. If you don't yet understand all of the rules and game-play, you should strive to. Just like the Olympics, the World Cup of soccer offers one of the rarest of opportunities to see the peoples of the world and all their beautiful differences and similarities. How could one justify missing such a sporting event? I know not.

And so, friends and readers, I beg you ... watch the games! Give soccer a chance. Not for me, and not just so soccer will become more popular in the US, but for you. Enjoy!