By Matt Noonan
It’s been years since I laced up my cleats, stretched my socks, as well as kicked around a soccer ball.
In 2006, I caught World Cup Fever, as Team USA, as well as other countries caught my attention by playing a sport that I certainly don’t enjoy watching. In fact, I never watch soccer, but for the first few weeks of that particular summer, I was glued to my television.
Did I know any of the players? Nope. I don’t know a single name. In fact, I still don’t know enough names to fill up a roster; so again, I’ll admit that I’m not a soccer hooligan.
How about the sport itself, do you know anything about it? Yes. I do know something about the sport of soccer, especially since I played it when I was younger, but again, I don’t care about it.
The sport of soccer isn’t the most popular activity in the United States. Sure, there’s football, basketball, baseball and hockey, but seriously, soccer, are you kidding me? Heck, I think it ranks lower than lacrosse and cross-country.
Yet, what’s so remarkable is the fact that so many young Americans grow up playing this particular sport and only a few continue the game in high school and college. Ask any of those young soccer players that are our neighbors or peers and I’m sure they can tell you about a variety of teams overseas, as well as name a few other players besides David Beckham.
When I was a student at Wheaton College (Massachusetts), the entire men’s soccer team displayed their affection for the sport by watching the various European games on televisions or laptops. They lived in the breath the sport, but again, I didn’t.
Although, there’s something special about the World Cup that really makes me want to watch soccer. What exactly is “that thing” that makes me want to watch soccer? I don’t know, but when I figure it out, I’ll call you, OK?
The World Cup is a special international event that celebrates various regions of the world coming together to play soccer. Politics and economics are ruled out, as teams put aside their foreign differences, most of the time, and play a game that captivates an audience of die-hards, as well as those that are considered casual supporters too.
Yet, what am I saying? Am I slowly admitting that I like soccer, especially the World Cup?
OK, I admit it. I’m “closet soccer fan,” but again, I really like the World Cup. In fact, I am super excited to start following and watching the Women’s tournament for the next few weeks and yes, I’ll do my very best to watch a great deal of games.
Of course, I am an American, so I’ll be cheering on Team USA to their first championship since 1999 and yes I do remember that finale quite vividly.
So, I guess… I like soccer.
OK, maybe it’s not my favorite sport, but after playing it as a young boy, as well as broadcasting it in college, I guess I like it. Sure, I don’t know players, teams or organizations, but that’s OK, right?
I’ll certainly be watching and maybe, covering some games for Noontime Sports, but in the meantime, I better start studying up on my soccer terminology, otherwise, I’ll have to admit my love for croquet.