Wright Words: Why I'm watching the World Cup — and you should, too

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  • Nachtmerrie_in_Brugge Mesa, AZ
    July 2, 2014 3:31 p.m.

    True, in baseball and American football, the actual time the ball is in play is a tiny fraction of the total duration of the game. However, one well-planned, strategic play that lasts only a few seconds but produces quantifiable results is worth all the down time between plays, or even all the failed plays leading up to it. (My opinion, of course.)

    Interestingly enough, in spite of all the talk about Americans' aversion to soccer, the 1994 World Cup still holds the record for highest attendance at matches. And who hosted the '94 World Cup? The United States.

  • Herbert Gravy Salinas, CA
    June 28, 2014 11:15 p.m.


    Too bad "Soccer-tes" wasn't a painter!

    June 26, 2014 6:13 a.m.

    Sorry, sports fans, I cannot in any way, shape, or form, get too immersed into professional sports in all its varieties--or even in a number of cases it's stepchildren in college and high school programs. Even the little league programs are frequently too intense for my tastes.
    Give me the old recess soccer game in elementary school, or the casual flag football in high school P.E. classes, and I'll go along. And I do understand the Elders playing with talented youngsters from the neighborhood. I'll even cheer for excellence at the higher levels, if it's kept in perspective. But devoting one's total life to it, from either a player or fan perspective? I'm going to vehemently object!

  • Mont Pugmire Fairview, UT
    June 26, 2014 5:36 a.m.

    We are in Montevideo,Uruguay, South America, a thriving city of over 2,000,000 people and are completing an LDS Mission. When Uruguay plays, the entire country is watching. The streets are deserted ... I mean NO ONE, the stores are empty and even when I tried to get a car wash, they told me the car wash machine was "broken" until 4 p.m. (end of the match). It is amazing and exciting at the same time to see such fan support. Yes, the matches are low scoring but the wonder of it all is watching those 22 amazing athletes constantly on the move... no rests, no time outs ... and they move with a precision and athleticism unmatched in any other sport. No wonder more people even in the United States go to soccer games than attend the spoiled little primadonnas in todays NBA. Go USA!!

  • voiceofreason1234 SANDY, TX
    June 25, 2014 9:08 a.m.

    Mr Wright,

    I believe the article should have started with this line:

    "Football and baseball are great. Basketball is tons of fun. But soccer is the sport that brings billions together on the most level playing field in sports.

    And that’s why I'm watching the World Cup with record numbers of viewers in this country and around the world.

    It’s the greatest show on Earth."

    And then 2 or 3 pages of "explanation of why" would follow from there. I would have found it much more engaging if such was followed.

    Thank you for your insights

  • djofraleigh raleigh, NC
    June 24, 2014 7:18 p.m.

    "equate soccer to things like the plague, the bird flu and any movie starring David Spade.Why so much hate?" - story quote

    Exactly, and why is the writer hating on David Spade?

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    June 24, 2014 4:55 p.m.

    " So you think doing away with the offsides rule in soccer would "change the game completely." How do you know this? It might change soccer for the better!"

    Definitely would change the game completely. As for how I'd know this, well, what would you do if you could have your players ahead of opposition defenders all the time. I'd just leave one or two near the oppositions goal at all times. Forget coordinated attacks, just lob the ball to the guys behind the defense. Now of course the defense would have to adjust to this and leave a couple of their guys way back on defense at all times.

    "and you don't see players standing under the opposing team's basket all game long waiting to cherry-pick easy baskets. "

    Because you can't play decent defense against a 5 on 4 (and unlike a power play in hockey which still has the goalie, a wide open shot is pretty likely to go in).

  • trueblueBYU Provo, UT
    June 24, 2014 3:18 p.m.

    Because baseball is like watching the grass grow that doesn't change the fact that soccer is also. Give me a break!

  • custer Boise, ID
    June 24, 2014 1:38 p.m.

    SlopJ30: So you think doing away with the offsides rule in soccer would "change the game completely." How do you know this? It might change soccer for the better! I have had many soccer players and coaches, tell me it would be a good idea to drop the offsides rule. Basketball doesn't have an offsides rule, and you don't see players standing under the opposing team's basket all game long waiting to cherry-pick easy baskets.

    The offsides rule in soccer makes it virtually impossible to have exciting break-away goals. Dropping the offsides rule would open-up soccer and make it much more exciting.

  • SlopJ30 St Louis, MO
    June 24, 2014 11:53 a.m.


    "The archaic offsides rule in soccer greatly limits the offense. Flopping is huge in soccer because goals are so hard to come-by, and flopping often creates penalty shots that win games.

    Offsides is one of the countintuitive rules I was talking about. Think about what the game would be like without the offsides rule. Teams could just send a half-dozen guys to stand by the goal, or cherry-pick all game long. You may think that might lead to a more exciting game (which, to Americans, typically means "more scoring"), but it would so fundamentally change the nature of the sport that every team would have to reinvent itself.

    The best analogy I can come up with the three-second rule in basketball. Do away with it and teams could plant your biggest guy under the rim and force the ball into him. Is that "better"? I don't know, but it would change the game completely.

    The flopping complaint is silly. First, how many actual penalty shots do you see resluting from flops? Second, players in EVERY sport "game" the refs in one way or the other.

  • Brent T. Aurora CO Aurora, CO
    June 24, 2014 11:45 a.m.

    Random--happened to catch a few minutes of World Cup in my peripheral vision while dining on fast food for the first time in 7 years. Otherwise have completely ignored WC.

    Custer--am proud(satisfied accomplishment) to have missed every minute of the last at least half dozen Olympics. I do get peeved that my tv shows go into reruns as other networks just surrender to NBC.

    Vincent--you're correct. Never learned to understand or care about the game.

    Pujols--the "art" you mention is completely boring and uninteresting. In fact painting canvas or a house has zero interest to me.

    Yet I will not denigrate the sport, nor ignore that most of the world right now is in television nirvana. Glad people can watch this stuff. I'll stick with watching the riveting NFL, close low scoring baseball, golf and a smattering of March Madness. To each his own.

  • Random Redlands, CA
    June 24, 2014 11:03 a.m.

    Our household has been watching the World Cup nonstop. It doesn't matter who is playing whom, we are watching. We are DVR'ing. We have stopped everything to go see this amazing play or that wicked cool move. My husband and son ref the AYSO games, my son and daughter play. I am a soccer mom.
    What I have been most impressed with this World Cup has been the sportsmanship. The players from each country are helping others up, often from the other team.
    Soccer also has a beginning and an end. Football has hours of "pregame shows" then "pregame talk about it" then the actual"game." Every time anyone moves the ball four feet, there's a celebration on one side and a whine from the other. And when you say, "There's only another five minutes in the game" for soccer, it's five more minutes, maybe an additional five for injury play, so ten tops; football minutes are never real time.
    Basketball has a ton of grandstanding anymore, so that's not fun to watch either. And baseball? Like someone else said, boredom personified.

  • custer Boise, ID
    June 24, 2014 9:49 a.m.

    The archaic offsides rule in soccer greatly limits the offense. Flopping is huge in soccer because goals are so hard to come-by, and flopping often creates penalty shots that win games.

    During the Olympic games we watch games we normally wouldn't care about. The same with the world cup. When the USA team plays on a worldwide stage, we take great interest---whether the sport is track, swimming, curling, or soccer.

  • Vincent Mrykalo Provo, UT
    June 24, 2014 8:55 a.m.

    It's what you grow up with. In the early '60's our Phys. Ed. teacher decided we should learn how to play soccer. It was new and it was fun. But it never took the place of the big three, and we never honed our skills like we did in baseball, football and baksetball. Therefore, it never grew on us and consequently I don't care much about the world cup, let alone soccer.

  • oddman ,
    June 24, 2014 8:45 a.m.

    Ditto to both and I add - he who doesn't understand that to do with the feet what we do with our hands takes dedication and hours of training. Like most skills, it best appreciated if you try it yourself to the point of becoming adept at it. GO USA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Pujols4mvp Lehi, UT
    June 24, 2014 8:39 a.m.

    Some say watching soccer is like watching paint dry. But if the painters are Rembrandt, Monet & Piccaso, who wouldn't watch?

  • SlopJ30 St Louis, MO
    June 24, 2014 8:01 a.m.

    The baseball anlogy is spot-on. A man in my ward recently married a Peruvian woman and brought her and her two teenage sons to the US. They are, not surprisingly, soccer fans and knew nothing about baseball. We got ahold of some Cardinals tickets and took them to their first game a week or so ago.

    What I saw was a great pitcher's duel in which the two teams combined for five hits in a 1-0 Cards win. What they probably saw was boredom personified. If you don't "get" baseball, that game would've been brutal. If you don't "get" soccer, a 1-0 game may seem that way. I'll admit to having an aversion to 0-0 games, which you can't have in any sport in the US, but that's my problem, not the sport's.

    In a sport where 3-2 counts as a shootout, each goal takes on huge significance. Score a touchdown on the opening drive? Nice, but hardly a killer blow. Score a goal in the first minute? Well, that might be all you need. Every shot takes on greater significance.

  • SlopJ30 St Louis, MO
    June 24, 2014 7:46 a.m.

    Although it's hard for me to elevate the World Cup over the Olympics in overall stature, I agree with the basic thrust of this piece. I admit that, although three of my four kids have played club soccer in the relatively soccer-mad (by US standards) city of St. Louis, I never watch soccer on TV . . unless it's the World Cup. The US games so far have been thrilling. I can't imagine anyone who claims to love sports stating otherwise.

    Reactions like those of Jason's friend should embarrass clear-thinking, fair-minded people. Though no-one's required to "love" soccer, to reflexively denigrate a sport most of the world loves is a characteristic of the Ugly American image that much of the world buys into. As Jason says, the flimsy reasons given for disliking soccer smack of both a lack of self-awareness and of obvious hypocrisy.

    Yes, some of the customs and rules of soccer strike your average US sports fan (including me) as odd and counterintuitive, but to insist that an international sport conform to our conventions is pure arrogance.