======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ==== ======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ====
Guys, we are less than two weeks away from the World Cup. Unless you are literally one of the least knowledgeable people alive on this planet, you know this only happens once every four years. FOUR years. That’s a long time. You (maybe) graduated from high school in four years. You (maybe) graduated from college in four years. This is a rare, wonderful four weeks we are about embark upon. I’d even argue it’s bigger than the Olympics. And yes, I mean even the summer Olympics. Why? Oh, gee, I don’t know, maybe because soccer is the WORLD’S SPORT. Now, regardless of how much you love it or hate it or you’re the kind of person who argues, “Who cares about everyone else because we’re America and we don’t like little fairy sports like that dang ball-kicking shit?” it’s still the sport of the globe. More people watch it worldwide than any other sport (Me, 2014). It’s the stuff of entire gangs and organized crime in some places. It is a fleeting yet spectacular reprieve for thousands, if not millions, of people.
From the deserts of the Middle East and Africa to the jungles of Asia to the perfectly manicured town parks of Small Town, USA, soccer is a global entity. It is both fluid and dynamic and can break your heart in seconds. It can be utterly boring to insanely entertaining. It brings grown men to tears, and blows. That was emotional, and I know some of you are saying, “Alright Mare, relax. I’m already at half-mast just thinking about Bradley’s shiny, bald dome and those new jerseys that look like the rocket pops I used to barter the ice cream man for every summer. You don’t gotta convince me.” Good, I’m so glad. For the rest of you, listen up. A word of warning to all you buttholes out there who spend 3.99 of the four years in between cups bitching about soccer. You hate on it constantly. You call soccer players literally some of the most inappropriate names I’ve ever heard. Calling it a wuss sport or too boring or whatever is uncalled for, and I know what you’re about to do. I’m here to say: DON’T YOU FUCKING DARE.
Okay, that was a little harsh, but hear me out. Let me begin by airing my dirty laundry. I played soccer for quite literally 20 years. Like, actual, competitive soccer. Was I good? No, not at all. Did I love it? Sure, until college when I realized how fat and slow I was and that was REALLY detrimental to being successful. But that’s an issue for my psychotherapist, not you. So yes, I am slightly biased. To be honest though, not as much as you’d think. I don’t watch soccer that often on TV. I mean, yeah, I worshiped Brandi and Mia and Michelle Acres when I was nine, and I had dreams of joining the women’s national team (LOL) but once I realized how fucking hard it was, I kind of just enjoyed it and put my focus on being good into a different sport. I watch a little of the Premier League here and there, but I can do little more than recognize the top players by name. If you haven’t deduced this already, I don’t care if you don’t like soccer. I don’t even like it THAT much. It’s way harder to watch than it is to play, but if you are one of those dildos who’s just vehement about shitting on the beautiful game (Amanda Bynes, 2006) every (rare) time it comes up in any conversation, you better shut your damn pie hole for the next month. I mean it. Don’t even think about lacing up your boots and jumping on the bandwagon. There is nothing worse than a bandwagon fan who shits on the sport (or team) every other point in the year besides playoffs (or, the World Cup in this case).
But listen, I get it. The temptation is strong. Events like this naturally bring people together. Just like with the Olympics, it’s about the nations as a whole that these athletes represent. So help me God, though, if you are a top soccer-basher at every other point in your life, I really hope you’re not plopping yourself down in front of every game and offering comments on every through ball and offsides call of the tournament. People will notice and they won’t like you one bit for it. To all of us slightly more accepting fans, I say this: mentally prepare yourself, because you’re about to be inundated with bandwagon fans.
We all know that generally speaking, bandwagon fans are the worst, especially if it’s in regards to a sport where you know every statistic and personal story behind each player. There are definitely degrees of acceptability. I mean, playoff sports, period. Everyone’s allowed into the ring for playoffs, given that you know the fucking rules and you’re not metaphorically humping and lusting after a team or a player that heretofore had never been uttered from your mouth. Please also just show some modesty, okay? I get it, I totally get it. I don’t like the NBA. (There, I said it.) But if the finals are on and I happen to be near a TV, I won’t change the channel. It’s the ‘ship–that’s practically blasphemous. BUT, when the subject arises, I pretty readily admit that I don’t watch many regular season games and I offer my theory that they’re all too big for the court and that dunking isn’t even sacred anymore as reason. I do not, however, pretend I know anything important about the game, the teams, or the players, because I don’t. The same goes for other sports where I pay a little more attention during playoffs. Admit you’re bandwagoning and shut your mouth.
With soccer, however, people don’t bandwagon. Surprisingly enough, there are yearly playoffs, both domestically (not that anyone cares) and abroad. But no, you don’t watch them. Ever. So to hop in line at this very instant–a mere 10 days or so before opening kickoff–with gusto and opinions makes you look like an asshole. If you aren’t one of those people who spends, on average, 32.8 minutes a week bashing the sport and all its athletes, then by all means, join in the fun, but ease your way into it. Don’t bitch about the flopping. We all know it sucks and its, very unfortunately, a strategy of the game. Don’t bitch about their suave haircuts and sleeve tats and nice, tight, bums…sorry, got carried away there. The point is, not every athlete can pull off dad jeans like Peyton and Brett. And please, for the love of Christ, fight the temptation to groan about how little action there is. Like, think about it–how badly would it suck if I sat in front of the TV with you while you watched your favorite baseball team and all I did was complain about how boring it is WHILE I CONTINUED TO WATCH IT. Not kosher.
We are rapidly approaching the twentieth anniversary of one of the greatest athletic competitions in the world, and I’m ecstatic. Even if you don’t love soccer with all your heart, you do love America, and we’re fielding 11 hearty men, just in case you didn’t know. Grab a bar stool, order something domestic (When do you not?) and shut up.