World Cup Soccer · 26 June 2010
I love sports. But I am not much of a sports fan.
I like most college sports, but do not have the time to watch them. After all, if I am going to spend time with my kids in front of the television, I would rather spend it playing video games than watching college sports. And I really do not like professional sports. I do not need to watch highly paid athletes complain about calls made by the referees or taunt other players. So I tend to stay away from watching sports on TV. Besides, I would rather be playing any sport than watching one. And when it comes right down to it, I really need a vested interest in a player to want to watch any sport.
With that attitude, I wondered why I like watching World Cup soccer so much. After all, the athletes participating in the FIFA World Cup act out and complain to the refs as much as any other athletes. And even though I have no interest (vested or otherwise) in any of the athletes playing, I find myself drawn to watching World Cup matches. I even channel surf trying to find one when I think there might be a game playing somewhere on our limited cable.
At first, I thought that the reason I like World Cup soccer is because of the skill level at which the game is played. I am continually amazed at how the players use one-touch passes and headers to move the ball so precisely to their teammates. I marvel at the crosses and shots. I love to see the fans cheer for their countries and favorite players. Yet as much as I am drawn to these things, the matches and the hoopla that goes with them are not the reason I like World Cup soccer.
As I thought about why I liked World Cup soccer, I found myself wondering why I was wondering why I like World Cup soccer. After all, do I really need a reason to like what I like? Still, I decided the reason that I was wondering about my own interest in World Cup soccer was because I wanted to know why my kids had such disinterest in the whole affair. Now I know that my wife and I have already biased them about sports on TV. They would much rather participate than watch just like we would. But I figured that if our oldest son and I were interested in what was going on in the World Cup, the younger two would be as well. Since they were not, I needed to figure out why I was so interested.
After watching a few games in the 2010 FIFA World Cup and analyzing my own interest in the game, I figured out what it is that draws me to the event. It was not the rarity of the game. After all, I like the Olympics which only come around every four years (depending on the season), but I do not have as much interest as I do in the World Cup. I certainly do not know very many players by name, reputation, or otherwise. So there really was no rational reason why I like to watch. Then I remembered watching my first World Cup match and decided that I watch for an emotional reason.
The first World Cup soccer that I had ever seen was when we were at Grandma and Grandpa’s farm. It must have been the 1978 World Cup or before, but I vividly remember hearing “Maradona!” on the TV (even though he would not play in his first world cup game until 1982). Regardless of how my memories are jumbled, I remember watching that first World Cup with brothers, sister, and cousins sitting around the old console TV. Adults came in and out of the room and it might have even been black and white, but it was still an exciting match. The reason that I remember (even if a bit faultily) that first World Cup soccer match was because we were all together watching. It was a normal summer at Grandma and Grandpa’s farm, and we kids were watching TV resting from helping with the farm work. Doing anything on the farm was memorable simply because we were together. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins were all there to chip in and help. We were being a family and that in and of itself imprinted the World Cup in my memory.
I suppose that if I want the World Cup to mean anything to my kids, I will need to make it important to them somehow. They may not marvel at the skill of the players or be fascinated by the colorful fans, but hopefully, they can get attached to the game through some memory of family like I had. But even if they never become rabid sports fans and do not get attached to World Cup soccer like I did (I do not know that seeing Donovan score in the 91st minute to win the match and group will imprint deep enough to get them hooked), I hope they will always value family and time together as much as I do.
© 2010 Michael T. Miyoshi
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