For those of us who have enjoyed the sport of soccer for many years, we understand that there are plenty of people that simply watch it every four years. There is nothing wrong with that — the World Cup is the biggest spectacle in sport. This World Cup has featured a great many goals, lasting images and more support of the USMNT than can be recalled.
We invite those of you that caught the fever over the last few weeks to hang on with us, find a team to support in some league around the world and expect to go on a roller coaster of emotions.
There have been watch parties popping up all over the United States from soccer-centric cities like Kansas City to cities owned by American football like Pittsburgh. There was a spirit around this World Cup not seen since the ’99ers took the women’s soccer world by storm 15 years ago.
Sales of U.S. Soccer gear skyrocketed to new heights. Despite an initial negative reaction, the bomb pop jersey could be seen all over the country. Many even had trouble tracking it down at their local sporting goods store.
For longtime, fans it may be hard to get used to the fact that work is coming to halt with the World Cup in the U.S. as it has in other countries for years. Most of us will welcome those new fans that helped set television rating records, and we will not call you bandwagon fans. Yes, some people will leave and come back in 2018. That is fine too. However, if you want to learn about the game and be a part of a growing soccer movement, there are plenty of people who will teach you.
We would accept continual growth over an explosion. Children may be inspired by Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard or Jermaine Jones. People may search for their local club and go see a game or two. All of this is very welcome. Just remember that soccer, perhaps unlike any other sport, will tug at your emotions and it will tug hard.
Glenn Roeder is remembered for speaking candidly about his father dying while he was playing or comforting his player Celestine Babayaro on the field a day after his brother had died. Perhaps one connects with Brendan Rodgers or Roberto Martinez after both of their compelling speeches at the Hillsborough ceremony this past year.
Along with the results on the field, soccer becomes a big stage for the display of the best and worst in human emotion. Once you are invested, it becomes a part of your fabric.
I’m not afraid to admit that I cried when the final whistle blew on the USMNT’s World Cup. Psychological studies say that crying often occurs when securely attached people are comfortable in expressing their emotions — they cry in ways that are considered normal and healthy. Soccer can help you reach the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but more importantly, it’ll keep you coming back.
Welcome to all of you that felt the fever of the World Cup. You don’t have to pretend to care about soccer anymore. You can simply care about it, but heed my warning. Regardless, let me be one of the first to welcome you to the wonderful world of soccer.