The refrain has echoed across the globe our entire lives. “The World Cup is the most exciting sporting event on the face of the planet. Bigger than the Super Bowl, Stanley Cup and World Series combined and go ahead, throw in the next Star Wars movie especially with Carrie Fischer and Harrison Ford dragging their walkers through it.”
We Americans should be congratulated for finally growing up and stopping with the mocking, “Oh, really. Soccer? So what’s the second most exciting sporting event on the planet then, the Norwegian Army Widows Seal Clubbing Tournament? Does the Desert Tricycle- Built- for- 2 Marathon Relay Seniors Tour come in third? “
No. We’re sophisticated now. Look at the huge leaps Major League Soccer has made in the last couple years, easily propelling itself to 8th or 9th most popular team sport in the country: right behind football, basketball, baseball, hockey, bowling, beach volleyball, polo and lacrosse. And maybe badminton. Jai Alai. And in some regions, cow tipping and pie eating.
But whether you call it soccer, futbol or boring, Pele got it right when he called it: “O jogo bonito.” The Beautiful Game. We occasional spectators from the Estados Unidos just need to learn how to watch the darn thing.
HOW TO WATCH THE 2014 WORLD CUP
Choose a team to root for. Every match. Pick the land of your ancestors. Or the land next to the land of your ancestors. Teams from your own hemisphere. Orange is your favorite color. Been there. Always wanted to go there. But always root for the underdog, because that could include us.
Choose teams to root against. Hiss and boo the squads whose victory would impede your favorite’s progress or just root against overbearing bullying countries. Which again, could include us. Root against the country that invaded the land of your ancestors. Or go traditional, and root against the Axis powers. Or some of the more obstreperous Allies.
The World Cup should be watched with people. Preferably at a bar frequented by the countrymen of the team you’re rooting for. But do some research. You don’t want to show up at a French bar in Italian colors. As simple as wearing green instead of blue.
If you must watch it at home, turn on Univision, not ESPN. The announcers are much more entertaining. You know the guy who goes “GOOOOOAAL” when someone scores? He screams like that all the time: at a penalty, when someone almost scores, even when players trip and fall, clutching their face like they were sliced by a machete. Which is not flopping. Its injury simulation.
You need a big ass TV. The bigger the better. 70 inches is a good start. Because soccer is fond of cameras fastened to the inside edge of the International Space Station.
Make your own red and yellow cards and hold them up when you need snacks or beer. Really makes non- watchers feel part the game.
Complain about the refereeing. Every knowledgeable fan does. These guys don’t speak the same language as the players. But they do have spray paint. Which is so cool. Something the NFL might want to consider.
And go USA. And anybody who plays the country that invaded the land of your ancestors. Which, once again, could be us.
Will Durst is an award- winning, nationally acclaimed political comic. Email Will at email@example.com.