by jamey lo
Recently, I’ve had a great deal of trouble coming up with an epic follow-up to my debut blog post from last week. If you haven’t read it yet, then shame on you! Do yourself a favor and read it here. However, as luck would have it, this week’s blog post coincides with the kick-off of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. So let’s write about that, shall we?
Now let me preface this, I am in no way, shape or form, a soccer fan. And yes, this is North America, we use the moniker soccer, not football. Despite literal interpretations and meanings. Silly Americans. However, I am a true fan of sport. And the FIFA World Cup is truly a sporting spectacle.
No other sport in the history of mankind has truly captivated the entire world like soccer has. It has grown to become the most popular team sport, and arguably, the most popular sport in the world for a myriad of reasons. Here’s a few reasons to chew on:
- Ancient – The game itself is extremely old. However, there is no conclusive evidence that explains soccer’s exact origins. Some accounts maintain soccer may have originated with the Ancient Greeks and Romans. Other historians believe soccer existed as an exercise with the Chinese military during the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Others stake its birth in Europe during the Medieval Ages. Regardless, history tells us that in 1888, The Football League was founded in England, becoming the first professional football competition in the world. And with it, the birth of modern soccer!
- Relatively Cheap – Soccer is one of the least expensive sports to play in the world. All you really need is a soccer ball. The sport can be played almost anywhere, on any surface. Compare that with the perpetual rising costs of children playing Canada’s game, and its no surprise that almost twice as many kids are playing soccer than they are hockey in Canada! Everybody’s always looking to save an extra couple bucks, right?
- Cultural Ties – With almost every country in Europe staking it’s claim to soccer, is it no surprise that a sport so old and easily exportable is tied to almost every country’s national identity? Sure, the world is quite aware that hockey is Canada’s game. However, you cannot quite compare Canada’s hockey-mad population of 35 million people to practically the entire continent of Europe at nearly 750 million football-frenzied fans. Sure, the cultural ties may be just as strong, but there are very few countries who would not consider soccer their #1 sport.
- Competition – There are very few countries in the world who have multiple viable sports. Most third world countries only have soccer. In Europe, soccer is still the undisputed #1, despite the popularity of Nordic Sports and Ice Hockey. North America may be the only wildcard. However, there is still an explanation for why soccer has never really taken off as entertainment in the United States and Canada. Simply put, there is just too much competition with the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL dominating the sporting landscape. Unless one of the ‘Big 4’ are dethroned by the MLS, there are just too many sports competing for entertainment dollars in the North America!
While I may recognize names such as Ronaldinho, Messi and Ronaldo, there are countless others that fly over my head. Simply put, soccer is just not my sport. However, I do recognize and can relate to the passion that soccer fans have for their sport. It’s the exact same passion I have for hockey. Then again, ever since Vancouver 2010, my nationalism and sense of Canadian pride has been heightened – to the point I relish and cheer on any Canadian team – regardless of sport!
The rest of Canada may fondly remember 1986; 5 years before my birth. The most this young whipper snapper has to grasp from is the Canadian women’s robbery at the 2012 London Olympics and subsequent bronze medal victory. In respect to Ireland, only the ‘Hand of God’ stands out in modern times.
Now if Canada or Ireland could just advance to the FIFA World Cup, that may change everything!