Sports

Confessions of a Soccer Newbie

When the World Cup began, my curiosity led me to give soccer a chance. I’m a causal American sports fan, so soccer wasn't on my must-see list. The United States isn't exactly a dominate power in the sport and with Major League Soccer (MLS) being considered an inferior league, catching the soccer bug hasn't been easy.

But in 2010 the United States was fielding a team with high expectations, and my attention has been squarely focused on the Cup. So far when getting my first real taste of soccer action, the lack of scoring made it a struggle to keep my eyes open. But then boredom turned into tense excitement—one move could change the balance of a match. Each match has the atmosphere of the NCAA tournament and the Olympics put together, which makes even Chile versus Honduras awesome to watch. From the vuvuzelas to stadiums covered in banners and flags, the environment makes the event unlike anything else in sports.

But when the dust settles in South Africa, will casual sports fans give soccer a minute more than its 15 of fame? Even if the U.S. team pulls off one of the greatest runs in the history of sports by winning the World Cup, there's no guarantee the soccer will enjoy a popularity explosion.

If soccer wants to matter, viewers need to watch the best the league the sport has to offer and not just MLS. Even though ESPN shows English Premier League matches throughout the year, there is still no program equal to “NFL Live” for soccer. It's a bummer because the future relies squarely on ESPN jumping in with both feet and pushing the sport.

For now, here's to the United States losing wallflower status and becoming just like any other nation in the soccer party.