Tonawanda News — Somehow we’re supposed to be involved, deeply, truly involved, in soccer.
They, by which I mean the world other than what’s north of the Rio Grande, anticipate the World Cup every four years, and it causes little more than a ripple in the United States, even when it was held in the U.S. in 1994. Since it’s soccer, it’s not baseball/ football/ basketball/ hockey. It’s the sport little kids in America play. It’s the sport on which suburban soccer moms overdosed.
So why the sudden surge of excitement, the pants-wetting thrill of it all? The standard answers are secondary to what I’ve deduced is the real reason.
The World Cup looks great, phenomenally and compellingly great, on high-definition television. The rules are easy to comprehend and the camera angles are exceptional. It is colorful and exhilarating. The athletes are visible – no football padding here – and the joys and sweat and disappointments and muscle flexing and legitimate pains and fake agonies are evident. For a sport that goes back to whenever mankind first kicked something for the sake of pleasure, it looks made for television.
Sit down in front of the television, and suddenly you’ve joined something globally bigger than yourself, the way a woman baking bread in a kitchen does not think about it but is part of a chain of women, doing the same thing, going back millennia in time. The same sit-there-and-watch is happening in Jamaica, England, China, Latin America, the Middle East. Even New Year’s Eve is sliced and staggered by time zones.
There is drama in most sporting endeavors. That’s why we care about them, but it is truly on display in soccer’s biggest tournament, especially if observed through the window of a high-def television. Add the views of the shiny and elegant new stadiums around Brazil (don’t worry, you didn’t pay for them), the wackily-dressed spectators, the good-looking spectators, the weather (rainy, for the most part) and the charmingly bizarre nomenclature of the sport (winning teams do not “advance,” they are “put through”), and I can understand why soccer matches, at this level, are regarded by dedicated fans as slow-motion, ninety-minute heart attacks.