I have a confession to make.
My friends will be confused by this confession, because it goes against just about everything that I stand for.
But after about three weeks of a non-stop TV obsession, it’s time that I spill the beans and fess up to everyone willing to listen.
I kind of like soccer now.
OK, my nose just grew a little bit after that last sentence. I lied.
Let’s try again.
I really, really like soccer now. I like it so much that I will be making a vow in this newsprint to follow the sport year-round.
That’s new for me.
I used to be the biggest soccer hater on the planet.
Sure, a lot of friends like the sport and follow it religiously, but I was always that one guy who rained on the parade and expressed my disinterest in what was going on.
I was that guy who complained about it being a low-scoring sport. I called the games boring. I said the athletes were soft because they flopped a lot. I criticized the fact that the USA wasn’t good at the sport, citing that until we became top dogs, I wouldn’t commit time to watching.
But I’m the first to admit that I’m stupid sometimes and this is one of those instances where my dumbness got in the way of a really, really good thing I was missing out on.
Soccer is an incredibly exciting sport.
I’ll be keeping up with all of the happenings that go on around the world from here on out.
See, what I missed about soccer in my initial opinion was the passion that is so heavily a part of the fabric of the sport.
Soccer players play really stinkin’ hard. By the end of the 90 minute grind, those guys (and gals) are absolutely done for. They have no energy left to spare and they can’t go anymore.
In the NBA, NFL and MLB, there’s a lot of apathy. All of the players are rich, so a lot of the time, we don’t always get an athlete’s best effort – because, frankly, they’re being paid the same whether they hustle or not.
But soccer doesn’t seem to have that problem – at least not on the international level, at least. Guys are playing for more than cash in these tournaments and friendlies. They are playing for their nations – and all of the people within them. That creates a rare passion that isn’t often replicated in other places throughout the world of sports.
I enjoyed thoroughly watching the Copa América tournament the past several weeks.
Heck, the European Championships have been good, as well – though to a lesser degree to me because I don’t quite feel as connected to the countries because of how far away they are to the U.S.
The United States had a little bit of good and bad in the Copa América field, showing both how much we’ve improved but also how far we have to go to compete with the super powers of the globe over the period of 90 minutes.
The finale between Argentina and Chile was epic theatre and truly was a sight any sports fan could appreciate seeing. By the time the penalty kicks stage was complete and Chile was crowned the champion, everyone on both sides was physically exhausted.
Argentina is a better team than Chile is on paper – there’s no doubt about that.
But the Chileans are scrappy and feisty. They just wouldn’t take no for an answer. Sure enough, they ended up winning and taking home the title.
By now, I’m babbling, but I’m still somewhat shocked that I’m writing this column – one which professes my newfound love for the sport of soccer.
Where it goes from here, one can never tell.
I also fell in love with the game after the last World Cup, but it was short-lived and didn’t last.
But this time, I think I’m in it for the long haul. I’ve been watching a lot of European stuff and it feels like I’ll be keeping my interest for a long time.
It should be fun.
I can’t wait to see where it will all head.
Dang, I was wrong about the world’s game.
Turns out, it isn’t so bad of a sport after all.
Follow Casey on Twitter for more.