Archive for June, 2014

June 18, 2014

Soccer and God

Is there something – anything – you believe in that is bigger than you? Something that humbles you, gives you hope, reminds you of your place in this world, and excites you to awake the next day just for a chance to see it all again? My wish for you is that if you don’t already have this, you will search your heart, soul and the world until you find it. It makes breathing every day worthwhile.

For me, I am so very blessed to say that there are a handful of things like this in my life. Most importantly and without a doubt the most humbling, is my relationship with God. It guides my belief on why humans are here, where humans are going, and how to spend every day in loving relationships with each other. It reminds me that I am just one piece of a giant puzzle that needs an entire planet worth of cultures to make the complete pretty picture.World Cup

The second most important ‘something’ in life that reminds me how our amazing world is made up of so much more than just me: the World Cup.

Yes, that’s what I said. World Cup Soccer.

I’m sure some of you (probably the Americans reading this… no offense, but let’s just be honest) just rolled your eyes when you read that line. But I challenge you to read on, and open your mind to see why the rest of the world is as enthralled with the World Cup and soccer in general, as we are.

The World Cup is by far the world’s most widely viewed sporting event. During the last 2010 World Cup, an estimated 909.6 million television viewers watched the final game. And for my fellow American friends as an example, the numbers for the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup finals this year were 6 million TV viewers. Sunday’s NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat attracted 17.9 million viewers. This year, 111.5 million viewers watched the NFL Superbowl.

So what attracts these hundreds of millions of people to watch the World Cup? This is a tournament unlike any other sporting event in the world. It takes four years worth of blood, sweat and tears from athletes who represent their entire country. Much like the Olympics, the soccer players are not playing for their contract with a professional team at that moment. Their dedication and loyalty is played for their country.

Soccer is a game won by speedy footwork, team collectiveness, individual endurance for nonstop cardio and mental preparedness and focus for ninety minutes. These players require just as much muscle strength as American football players, combined with just as much cardio endurance as basketball players, on top of the mental strength needed for a professional golfer. The game doesn’t stop, except for blood on the field, but even then the clock keeps ticking. No helmets, minimal padding, and much, much more attractive uniforms.

Most importantly, what I love about the World Cup is the reminder that there is an entire world full of people who are passionate, dedicated, strong, and unique and are a part of something much bigger than I am. The World Cup is a showcase for each country to have hope and pride. For many, soccer is a religion and the passion that fans exude is not just a once-every-four-years type of thing.

Fans dress up with faces painted, goofy headwear or anything creative they can put together to demonstrate their pride. Language differences are not barriers, instead they become bridges. The World Cup is held in different places in the world and then at stadiums within different cities of that country, opening up our eyes to the beauty of new places. The games are fascinating, unpredictable at times, fast-paced and the knock-out rounds are intense.

While thirty-two teams make it to the World Cup, the other countries that strive to be there are just as important to building the puzzle.

I am not aiming for you to forget your favorite NFL teams or NCAA dedication and all of a sudden only like futbol. I just hope you can get a taste for the importance of a tournament like the World Cup; embrace and respect it, have pride for your country, appreciate it and break your ignorance by recognizing that the entire world believes in the beauty of this game.

Perhaps my statement that both God and soccer belong on a similar pedestal is a little too extreme, but it’s close.

The World Cup makes every four years unexplainable, magical and exhilarating and I hope you’ll count it as one more reason to just, love life.