Top ten lists are all the rage these days, but I only came up with nine so rather than give you pointless bullshit (like sports that aren’t soccer do), I give you Nine Reasons the World Cup is Better than Any Other Sporting Event.
9 – Games start on time
Oh cool, the next game is on at noon, so I’ll tune in at 12:10 to catch the kickoff. Wait, Nine minutes have already been played? What is this!
I don’t know if this is an American thing, but our games never start on time. Whether it’s the NFL wanting to cram in more (Nike Adidas Gatorade Chevy) commercials, or the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens pushing puck drop back 20 minutes so they can hold a ceremony for some old dude no one cares about, our games Never. Start. On. Time.
The TV listings are a lie. A lie that will try to sell you potato chips and boner pills.
8 – Game to commercial ratio
Soccer is roughly 90+ minutes of people playing soccer and only 15ish minutes of people trying to sell me shit (ads on the uniforms notwithstanding). Contrast that with the NFL whose famous run of Touchdown – Commercial – Kickoff – Commercial – One Play, Two Minute Warning – Commercial is legendary. NFL games are roughly 15-20 minutes of actual football movement, 40-45 minutes of things somewhat related to football and 2+ hours of commercials and stupid halftime shows.
It’s awful, we are the dumbest people on the planet when we’re willing to sit through two hours of advertisements for a game that mostly involves the ball not moving.
7 – Only one break
There is halftime. That’s it. And while this can be bad for the relief of basic bodily functions, it also cuts down on the amount of bullshit you have to sit through (like Terry Bradshaw) when you could be watching the sport you sat down to watch.
6 – Something is always happening
I sort of covered this earlier, but the ball is almost always moving. Players are re-positioning themselves, jockeying for position, goalkeepers are screaming. Things man. Things. And yes there is the tactic of wasting time when you’re ahead late, but it’s nowhere near as bad as the NFL which has A PLAY DESIGNED SPECIFICALLY TO WASTE TIME, or your average Red Sox – Yankees game which takes a full calendar year to complete because the camera needs to focus on Derek Jeter’s time-beaten face while he takes another practice swing and messes with his pants.
5 – Worldwide appeal
Unlike the NFL, which is confined to the USA and, apparently, London, baseball which relegates itself to North America, Central America, and Japan, Hockey which is only played seriously in (let’s be real here), the US, Canada, Russia, and Scandanavia, and Basketball which has been dominated by the US since forever, Soccer has worldwide appeal and relative parity.
4 – Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations
Anything can happen. Well…not really, but this year’s World Cup has already seen FIFA’s (mostly bullshit) ranked #1 (Spain), #9 (Italy), and #10 (England) teams eliminated, and it isn’t looking good for #6 (Switzerland) and #4 (Portugal). Of the five groups that have finished the group stage, only one (Group C) has seen the top two teams advance. The “worst” team has advanced twice (Costa Rica and Nigeria).
3 – Almost every scoring play looks incredible
Home runs, slam dunks, and one yard touchdown runs. Also, extra points. YAWN. Sure soccer has the odd mundane goal, but each goal is so important the excitement is there anyway. And rarely in other sports can you have something like this. On a national stage. That 31 other countries are participating in. That pretty much every country in the world cares deeply about.
2 – Rooting for the USA is rooting for the underdog
When does this ever happen? And it’s especially fun now as the National Team is coming into it’s own. We can actually beat some of the teams that have been beating on us for years. Like Ghana. Fuck Ghana. HOW DO YOU LIKE JOHN BROOKS’S APPLES GHANA?
1 – The Drama in Every Moment
And that’s what it comes down to. Everyone cares. Everyone cares a lot. I was watching the Iran – Argentina match and Iranian players were apoplectic at their missed chances. Iran doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in Iran of winning anything, and yet they came into that game looking to take on a Soccer Superpower and give them a run for their money. (Which they very nearly did.)
You don’t get that in other sports. In the NFL and the NHL and the MLB and the NBA, everyone knows which four teams are almost definitely going to contain the eventual league champion by the halfway point. When the Cincinnati Bengals exit the playoffs, no one cares because everyone knew they sucked anyway.
Meanwhile…ARGH WE COULD HAVE BEATEN PORTUGAL! WE COULD HAVE BEEN THE FIRST TEAM TO ADVANCE OUT OF THE GROUPS OF DEATH! ARGH MOTHER FUCKING FUCK!