Regardless, TV ratings are up, and I can't begin to count how many people I've seen walking the streets of New York wearing jerseys lately. It's not just the excitement of the sport itself. Instead, what I love about soccer is the degree to which it reflects larger themes. Follow it closely, and you'll learn things over time that give you advantages in business and life.
I probably scored a goal, too. I usually did. Not to brag, but as a five-year-old kid on the sun-scorched fields of North Texas, wearing a perforated purple jersey that hung down to my knees, I was an absolute menace in front of goal.
This was in the mid-seventies, in the middle of the big U. The original North American Soccer League had just formed.
I was a Dallas Tornado fan. I had a poster of Kyle Rote, Jr.
It seemed like every kid in America was playing soccer, even the girls. And the best of those little girls, who grew up playing right alongside the boys, went on to form the incredibly dominant first generation of the U. I enjoy thinking that I had something to do with that. For the rest of you, the interested and interesting folks out there who might not know much about the game but want to enjoy it a little more during this World Cup, here are a few tips.
Pick a team. Place a friendly bet. Pick a team to go all the way, or just choose your side match to match.
I like rooting for the underdog. America from here on out is an underdog. Do the minimal research. You are just five minutes on the Internet away from understanding the offside rule and how it affects the game.
Soccer is a complex, ever-flowing chess game with running. Get into it.
What choices does he make? Enjoy the sociocultural anthropology of it all. Pay attention to the rising and falling of individual and team confidence, the turning of momentum, the clashing of wills. Notice how countries and even continents play the game differently—I find that part endlessly fascinating.
Enjoy that. Clap right there on the couch if you want to. I mean a full-on panting sprint. Now imagine doing something else with your feet at the same time.
Seriously, imagine it. Imagine that other human is a brawny Brazilian nicknamed Hulk. And because he called it that, I got picked on a lot as a kid. The cartoonist Matt Diffee is sending us World Cup dispatches. Follow him at matthewdiffee.