I am a futbol fan.
I am not the kind of fan that knows every player on every team in the professional atmosphere; to be honest, I don’t even know the entire lineup of Real Salt Lake every time they hit the field.
I’m familiar with some of the names on RSL such as Nick Rimando, Alvaro Saborio and Kyle Beckerman, other than that I couldn’t tell you anything else.
But I am still a futbol fan.
This kind of fandom of the game doesn’t come from the timing of the World Cup currently being played or the fact that every four years there’s a sense of optimism that the U.S. men’s national team can even make it past the first round of the knockout stage (something they haven’t done in the past two World Cups), but from a recent rant from an ESPN commentator that I’ve liked since his early days on SportsCenter.
In his monologue he explains his displeasure about the World Cup simply because, and I’m paraphrasing here, “it’s the most overhyped event on television.”
This person continues to back his theory about people’s wavering fandomonium of the World Cup by describing the scenes of bars, restaurants, stadiums and the like; places filled with people chanting “I believe that we will win” one day while merely “acting like” they love soccer when in reality they couldn’t tell the difference between a corner kick and a set piece.
It may be true bandwagoning at it’s best, but it isn’t true to say that the World Cup is the biggest sporting farce in the world every four years.
To imply that every single non-sports loving person on the planet only cares about the game once every four years is not only an erroneous statement, but is also based on his own beliefs that those same people don’t care about futbol once the Cup is over.
The game has been around longer than just about any sport. American football loosely started from futbol and has become the powerhouse sport in America as we know it.
But futbol is, for all intents and purposes, the world’s top sport. Teams number in the hundreds and the number of leagues around the world far exceed any number of football leagues people can name in North America.
I am a fan of both football and futbol. When I’m covering high school sports during the fall and spring I’m occassionally poked fun at for being a little too exuberant from the sidelines at the many missed touchdowns and near goals that could have been scored during a game.
At face value, the number of futbol fans far exceeds the number of football fans the world over. The World Cup should be proof of that.
But instead, commentators want to call the tournament an overhyped farce full of non-fans just looking for an excuse to get away from work for a few hours.
Those people are wrong.
The World Cup is only one of the many ways futbol is celebrated, and it is a game that reaches all parts of the world.
Anything said to the contrary is simply incorrect.