Yes, it’s that time. It only happens every four years. Yes, it’s the World Cup. What do they call it? Soccer? Football?
Who cares, right?
Check this out first.
4 billion people will watch. The Super Bowl averages around 100-110 million. The Olympics averages around 247 million daily viewers.
The 2006 final between Italy and France attracted 715.1 million viewers, the largest single television event in history from what I’ve learned. The 2006 World Cup attracted a 26.29 billion non-unique viewers.
If you are an American reading this, you still may ask “Who Cares?”
Well to start, USA is a big underdog. Countries with populations 1/10 the size of ours are picked to do better than us. On June 12th, USA will face England for the first time in 60 years in a World Cup. And yes, we beat them then! In the USA, we are overwhelmed by so many sport choices so what is the big deal with soccer? I grew up playing the game and continue to follow it as best as possible despite living in a town without a professional team. The passion is there.
Years ago, I lived in Scotland and became friends with a German who was traveling there named Tobi. We stayed in touch and I even visited him in Germany later that year. We agreed to meet up to travel through the UK again a couple years after that. Along that journey with other friends we met an amusing British guy named Curtis. We all stayed in touch after our travels and agreed that the next time we’d meet would be in Germany 3 years later for the World Cup. I became married in those years to Brooke and so the four of us traveled throughout Germany and we were fortunate enough to see Togo play South Korea. It was an unbelievable experience and I cherish every part of it to this day. The World Cup was what unified us that year. Thank God our teams didn’t play each other, though. But, on June 12th, Curtis and I most likely be speaking during that game. Ultimately we all will be friends and are looking toward 2014 in Brazil to meet up again.
So far, this is the best video I’ve found capturing the spirit of the World Cup.
It’s not just about the World Cup. It’s about the connection of cultures, making friends, and enjoying the adventure.
You may not play soccer and may never want to but you can’t deny what this sport has done as a bridge for cultures.
There are so many ways to use sport to connect and heal the wounds. In Nashville alone here are a few:
Sports Servants: A great friend of mine Zac Hood took the courageous step to start up a Non-Profit called Sports Servants in 2005. Zac recognized early on in his visits to Belize that the one unifying thing he could get kids to enjoy together was sport, and in particular, soccer. It is what has brought together villages across northern Belize to enjoy. Cultures have been brought together by this tremendous gift.
Nashville International Cup: Annually, a group meets comprised of Mexicans, Arabians, Hispanics, Kurdish, Sub Saharan Africans, Bantus, Asians, etc. to play a tournament. 90 players from 14 countries. These are immigrants and some of them refugees coming to America for a better life. It’s amazing because many of these people were enemies back home but are able to come together for the love of a common game. This takes place today and tomorrow.
World Relief: A friend of mine, Karen Barnes volunteers with this tremendous group here in Nashville that provides assistance to immigrants and refugees. You can read more about Karen’s experience in her blog about “Serving Refugees.” If you take a moment to look around your town, you will discover dozens of nationalities around you who need assistance.
So this next month, use The World Cup as a way in your community to connect with people other than your nationality. Learn about their lives, invite them over for a meal, and if you will, go play a game on the pitch.
Here are a few other fun resources in celebration of The World Cup:
Last but not least, the latest blog from Stuff White People Like will have you on the floor.