Columnist Ann Coulter has listed 10 reasons she thinks soccer is un-American. She’s got it all wrong. Here are five reasons to love watching the World Cup.
1) The whole world is involved
The World Cup literally means World Cup. Sure, baseball has the World Series and features players from around the world, but soccer’s “Olympics” starts with teams from more than 200 different countries. The qualification process alone takes more than two years to complete as 207 teams try to become one of 32 that eventually qualify (including the one automatic bid for the World Cup host country).
The first qualification match was held back on June 15, 2011 between Montserrat and Belize. Yes, even Montserrat — a small island nation in the Caribbean with a population of about 5,000 — has a chance to qualify. Unfortunately, the country didn’t make it to the world stage, but as Lloyd Christmas said in “Dumb & Dumber”, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.” Exactly. To complete the baseball analogy, it’s like putting all the Major League teams in a tournament with all the minor league teams at all levels. It’s an incredible feat just to organize it.
2) You only have to pay attention every four years
OK, as noted above, the qualifying process may take forever, but who is really paying attention to that? The World Cup is really a month-long tournament that happens once every four years. That’s it. It’s a minimal time investment compared to baseball’s 162 game seasons or basketball and hockey’s 82 games.
The matches also take place in the middle of the summer. The NBA Finals are over. So are the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Meanwhile, baseball is in its most boring stage of the year, way before the playoff race begins. So, why not inject some excitement into our sporting lives with the World Cup?
Plus, in the first round there are three matches per day as each of the 32 qualifying teams will play a minimum of three games.
One month, 64 games, every four years. It’s like cramming for your finals, but way more fun — without a test, of course.
Bonus: Because Brazil is the host country this year, you don’t have to wake up at odd hours to watch the games live.
3) Only one person knows when the game will end
This is something American sports fans are not used to. Most major sports have a clock. Soccer does as well, but its clock isn’t exact. Sure, there are two 45-minute halves for 90 minutes of total playing time, but only the referee truly knows when both the half and the game will end.
The referee has the power to stop and start the clock. The clock seems to stop while players are writhing around on the ground nursing their fake injuries. But, the referee-controlled clock adds an element of suspense to soccer matches, especially during a tie or one-goal differential games.
Look what happened in the U.S.-Portugal game: Portugal tied the game with a goal in extra time, which could have cost the Americans a chance to advance to the elimination round. Extra time is unpredictable. It’s frantic, intense and fun.
Bonus: Even with extra time, soccer matches take two hours to finish and there are no commercial interruptions while the game is on. Soccer has zero TV timeouts!
4) The 2014 U.S. team is competitive
In the 2014 World Cup, the United States team was assigned to Group G — or, as it is more affectionately known, the Group of Death. The group featured Ghana, Portugal and Germany.
Ghana has knocked the U.S. team out of the past two World Cups. Portugal has one of the best players in the world on their roster, Cristiano Ronaldo. Germany is one of the best teams in the world.
Currently, the U.S. is ranked as the 13th-best team in the world by FIFA. But, we’ll root for our country no matter the ranking. USA!
5) Excuses to cut work
Almost every post on my Instagram feed Thursday morning was a picture of a flat-screen TV with the U.S.-Germany game on. The nation was watching! Who cares about work and productivity?
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann doesn’t. He wrote a doctor’s note to get people out of work to cheer for Team USA. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo allowed state workers to take an extended lunch to watch the game. Did your boss?
The spirit is infectious. Especially when you get to knock off work and get to root for the U.S. competing in a sport we’re not known for. This 2014 World Cup has become like an extended summer vacation, one U.S. game at a time. Here’s to hoping we can make a run toward the finals. After all, Klinsmann might write us more excuse notes.