My background is from the Caribbean and like elsewhere, with the exception of Canada and the US, soccer is the biggest sport.
My father plays. My brother plays–minor league. I don’t play, but have played in the past. I don’t watch the sport year round, but come every four years, I become a rabid soccer fan. Soccer is among a handful of sports that’s not expensive to learn or play, adding to its universal appeal. It can be played by the poorest in Africa to the wealthiest in North America.
North America, however, isn’t soccer central. We already have football leagues (NFL, CFL) and when it comes to worship, we prefer the homegrown sports: NFL, basketball, hockey and baseball.
This means that soccer takes a backseat until the World Cup. But boy, when it comes time for the World Cup, don’t we catch the fever, too. Soccer, like the Olympics, works because it’s international and culturally inclusive. It brings people together. It’s a distraction.
This year, more than any other, is exciting. The FIFA World Cup takes place in South Africa–the first in Africa. It’s off to a rocky start–people getting robbed, but the richness of the celebration and the fever that has gripped the nation can’t be beat.
Can’t tell you who will win; though I am cheering for one of the African teams.