This past Saturday, an unbelievable thing happened at EverBank Field, the home of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars. Good football was played to a nearly packed stadium! I'm obviously talking about soccer.
The turnout for last Saturday's World Cup send-off game between the United States and Nigeria broke records in attendance. A staggering 52,033 people came to watch. Chants of "USA" echoed into the night, helping the team edge out a friendly victory of 2-1. The regular occurrence of genuine, shared American patriotism is one good reason to tune in to this year's World Cup. The sight of Americans banding together, regardless of background or political interest, is one for sore eyes.
Like the Olympics, the World Cup is an international spectacle that comes around every four years. A recent article in Forbes entitled "The Billion-Dollar Business Of The World Cup" puts the World Cup revenue at just about $4 billion. This figure is second only to the Olympic Games. The most lucrative one-day event in sports continues to be the championship game of American football: the Super Bowl.
In my family's experience, World Cup games have been a nice way to make friends in other countries. My husband watched the 2006 World Cup in Morocco during a summer studying abroad. My parents, siblings and I watched games during lunch breaks while serving a medical mission in Mexico in 2010. The emotions ran so high as we all cramped around a small box TV set that I will still cheer for the Mexican team this year. (Behind Team USA, of course.) And this year, the whole family will watch the first week of games from another soccer-loving country: Jamaica.
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If you have a preference for the athletic male figure, you ought to tune in. These guys are in superhuman shape and their habit of ripping their shirts off after scoring goals need not be broken. Keep an eye out for known heartthrob Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal. Captain of the Portugal team for the World Cup, as well as the Spanish club Real Madrid, Ronaldo has an astonishing 26 million followers on Twitter. Expect that number to grow over the coming weeks.
Another great facet of the World Cup is how family friendly its schedule is.
There are games going on multiple times every day, making a viewing pretty convenient for just about anyone. Plus, it's a good opportunity for the whole family to brush up on world geography and even history. Unlike your average Social Studies class, soccer games are inherently entertaining to kids. You can probably squeeze a good amount of education into a viewing with zero fuss.
Curious to tune in? The Breezeway Bar & Lounge on Main Post in Fort Benning is airing all World Cup games with no admission fee. Know of any other local spots showing the games? Let us know on Facebook or beneath the online version of this article.
-- Natalia Naman Temesgen is an independent correspondent. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @cafeaulazy.