:an international association football competition contested by the men's national teams of the members of Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport's global governing body
Some people never watch sports. There are people who don't know what first and goal means (some of them may even live in the South!). There are people who change the television station if Wimbledon is on, don't know the significance of the green jacket or have never kept score at a baseball game (ok, I haven't done that either). These same people probably don't know what a vuvuzela is. I'll admit I didn't know until World Cup 2010 started. I'll also admit that while an MLS game doesn't hold my attention, I have been a bit of a World Cup junkie over the last two weeks. I've watched all of the US matches and several matches where I had no connection at all to either team. Why? That's a tougher question.
Part of the answer lies in the general excitement of this once-every-four-years event. If you miss your chance here, you wait a while to get another shot (just ask Italy or France). I also have become gradually more interested in World Cup as I've aged. I remember twenty years ago being in England when their team failed to qualify for World Cup, while Ireland did. There was a period of national mourning. Not really, but close. At the time, I didn't grasp the significance, but I understand it better now, even if my own national pride doesn't hinge on how well team USA performs in each match.
My enjoyment of World Cup has grown in nearly direct proportion to my understanding of the game of soccer. Having watched B play soccer for several seasons, I understand the game much better than I used to. This helps because I can more fully appreciate just how gifted these players are: stopping a ball in mid-air with no hands, kicking a ball in one direction while running in another, heading a ball to a teammate or into the goal. Phenomenal. Amazing. Entertaining. I watch these elite goalies and can see why B was best at this position - she was fearless, quick and smart in the box.
I watch to cheer on our country. I watch to see some of the many amazing things the human body can do. I watch to cheer for the underdog. Apart from England, I nearly always cheer against the European countries. I guess I feel they've had their fair share of World Cup success, so I'm happy to root for Mexico, Uruguay or, on any day other than today, Ghana. Next time around, I may pull out a world atlas and make A and B watch with me (since K is willing to watch anyway). We can have a geography pop quiz while also getting some soccer watching done.