I’m not like Marc Stein or Steve Nash (who seem fanatical) or even Bill Simmons in my fútbol fandom. I don’t follow a team in the EPL and don’t have rooting interests in other club teams from around the world. That said, like many young kids that grew up in America I played plenty of AYSO soccer and have always had a fondness for the beautiful game.
I’ve always seen soccer as having great parallels to basketball as it’s truly a team game where angles and positioning and team work are necessary for success. Where fundamental play and technique can help just as much as great athleticism, and those with all those qualities are the best players in the world. Where, despite the flopping or angling for calls, there’s a toughness that’s required to play the sport – even by those that play a “finesse” game.
Why do I bring all this up? Because I’m legitimately excited for the upcoming World Cup. Starting on June 11th, the best players put on their national colors and duke it out to stake their claim as the best team in the world. Much like the Olympics, the every four year build up to the World Cup makes this event one of (if not the) biggest sporting events in the world and I plan to follow it as much as I can. And as a basketball fan, I know I’m not alone here. I already mentioned guys like Stein and Nash, but I know there are many, many other hoops lovers (players, media, and fans) that also go nuts over the game that we call soccer. Are you one of those people? Let me know in the comments (and who you’re rooting for).
Oh, and one last reason why I’m looking forward to the World Cup? The fantastic commercials. Nike always puts out some classic spots and this year is no different. Check out the clip below and you’ll even get a little basketball flavor with our own Mr. Bryant. (hat tip to Henry at TrueHoop for passing this along.)