The Unsolicited Endorsement: World Cup soccer

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by Brian Clarey

Yes, we’ve all heard the standard smack-talk about soccer. Go ahead and get it out of your system. Not enough scoring. Too many ties. Ridiculous fans who completely lose it even when it looks like nothing is happening on the field.

But it’s time we as a nation embrace the world’s game, played out once every four years on the grandest of stages. And this time let’s really do it, not like in 1994, our host year, when we grew grass inside the Detroit Silverdome, or that whole metric-system fiasco. Let’s follow the World Cup this year, without griping about scoring or the vuvuzela. Here’s why you should pick a team and follow them through.

Like to watch sports during the day? Lots of World Cup games start at noon, totally acceptable to watch at a bar that serves lunch. You can monitor the action in a window on your computer screen at work, too.

Speaking of work, you can get everybody in the office on board with a Final Four style bracket competition, which will give you something to talk about at lunch for the entire season.

It’s never been easier to follow the cup games, what with the internet and all. ESPN is live-streaming all 64 matches and releasing an app for fans — you can watch it on your phone, dude, and get scoring updates by text. The ESPN family of networks, including ABC, will run all the games on traditional TV, and Univision has a slate set for airing as well (and Univision will be streaming every game for free from its website, which is awesome even if you don’t speak Spanish).

You are going to want to watch on a big screen if you can. The games are in Brazil this year, so it will be worth it for the B-roll of street parties alone. Also, Brazil: Home of Pelé, who is gonna be all over the place — on TV, at the games, in parades. Pelé, dude! Greatest ever, hands down. That’s worth the price of admission right there..

And it’s not like we don’t know the game. Everyone under 50 has played soccer. If you haven’t, here’s a quick primer: You use your feet to kick the ball in the goal. Just the one guy gets to use his hands. If you kick it out of bounds, the other team gets to throw it back in. That’s pretty much it.