World champions: How soccer and the World Cup finally won over America

06/17/14 by Rennie Detore



World Cup fever has arrived. The question remains, however, does anyone in the continental United States even care?
That may seem like an obvious answer to those who bleed red, white and blue World Cup soccer or any soccer played within the confines of this tournament, which is being held this year in Brazil. They'll make it a point to watch every game, even if that means setting their alarm and waking up at two in the morning on Wednesday night.
To that group of fans, the World Cup is their World Series, Super Bowl and Daytona 500 rolled into one energetic and palpable sporting event that has no equal. For some, the World Cup is noteworthy and not much else. Soccer really has never been fully embraced by the masses that love their NFL, MLB and NBA as a sport Americans are chomping at the bit to watch and ultimately sink their teeth into.

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Consider the dynamic when you're out at a bar or restaurant that has the games playing on the accompanying televisions. About half the room is intently watching, yelling and following every move each player on the field makes. The other half isn't so much enthralled with what's on television, other than a nonchalant glance when the other 50% cheers just to see what's happening. Aside from that quick peek, they're not overly concerned with soccer on this level.
The balance of power and that proverbial needle that is World Cup soccer seems to be shifting, at least as far as the 2014 version of the tournament is concerned. Some news and media outlets are reporting that the United States has brought more fans to Brazil for this year's World Cup than any other country, suggesting that the masses might be starting to take notice of soccer more so than they've had in the past. You'd have to assume that statistic only will lead to increased television ratings, spikes in advertising revenues for the networks and perhaps the type of casual viewing that the World Cup wants so badly from the United States fan base.
The general feeling is the World Cup specifically and soccer in general is growing in popularity, and that can perhaps be traced to more kids taking up the sports in lieu of football or hockey. A lot of that might have to do with concussions and the subsequent stories that the professional sports are making seemingly every day with headlines that scare parents away from pee wee football and ice hockey. That's not to suggest that soccer isn't a difficult, contact sport, but it doesn't have the repetition that are the collisions in hockey and football.
Whatever the reason behind the World Cup turning the corner as far as popularity in the United States, it appears soccer and this event in particular is finally sweeping the nation the way it was originally intended. For long time fans, this is nothing new or groundbreaking. They've been here the entire time, and can only ask why everyone else is so late to the party.
The new fans of soccer can't help but get wrapped up in the athleticism, showmanship, competition and patriotism that is the World Cup. Those attributes make this arguably one of the greatest sports tournaments in the world, and it appears that the sport itself is getting the recognition it so rightfully deserves.

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