The World Cup only has 4 matches left (1 being a 3rd place game no one will be particularly jacked about being in).
This makes me more sad than I expected.
I mean, I’ve watched World Cups before and didn’t really care all that much. And I can’t say that I’m anything but a super casual fan – popping in if I know a bunch of good storylines are in play.
But this one in Brazil? I’ve been way into it. Tried to catch as much action as possible. Even got caught up in the USMNT fever.
Over the course of the past 4 or so weeks, I tried to make a mental checklist of the reasons I’ve become simpatico with the world’s biggest sporting event.
I came up with five:
1) Game Length
Oh, sweet baby Jesus. This might be reason soccer actually takes off in America. People’s attention spans are however long it takes to refresh Twitter. Half of you have already dumped off this page.
Soccer gets this so, so right.
Games take 112 minutes start to finish. Two 45 minute halves, 12 minute halftimes and up to 10 minutes of stoppage time (usually more like 5-7 minutes, but we’ll error high). Even games that go to penalty kicks would only be 150 minutes or so.
In other words, you can totally plan your life around a soccer game!
The longest possible soccer match is 2:30. If every baseball game was 2:30, we’d all be better off. Hell, if we could get a college football game done in under 3:30 that’d be an improvement. Soccer games are downright breezy compared to majors in golf and tennis.
2) No Timeouts
How many times have you been watching a World Cup match between an heavy favorite and an underdog and the favorite is just pounding away, throwing everything they’ve got at the lesser team, desperate to break through for a goal, and thought to yourself… ‘why isn’t this coach calling a time-out’?
Timeouts have become a crutch in football, hockey and especially basketball. But in soccer, if you’re going to pull an upset, you’ve got to EARN it. When the momentum is totally against a team, it’s up to the TEAM to turn it or surrender. If they can’t? Then they can’t.
But stopping play isn’t an option.
3) The Colombian Announcers & Jon Champion
Once the US was eliminated, I didn’t want Colombia to lose. Why? Because everything about their announcers was perfect after goals were scored, including the song that they played under the call.
And Jon Champion vaulted right up my personal announcer rankings. Dude was on-point every single match he called.
4) Marketers Treat Us Like Humans
You know what’s nice? Having respect for marketing and marketing reciprocating.
Let’s not be naive here. You haven’t paid a dime (directly, at least, sans your cable bill) for any of your World Cup entertainment. And ESPN isn’t putting hundreds of millions of dollars into broadcasting it to be altruistic.
So we should expect to be marketed to.
That being said, having subtle marketing (like the logo popping out of the on-screen scoreboard) makes – for me at least – more prone to check out what that sponsor is trying to pitch. I respect the fact that they respect I’m not an idiot and see what’s going on here. I understand the deal.
Let’s hope that as soccer evolves, and in turn coverage of the sport in the US evolves, we try to move in a direction that’s both helpful to the marketer and pleasing for the marketed to.
5) The Men In Blazers
Roger Bennett and Michael Davies have been doing their thing for a while on the Grantland podcasting network amongst other places, but this World Cup, they’ve been the undisputed breakout stars of ESPN’s coverage.
Did you know that Davo is a TV producer? He’s the executive producer of ‘Wife Swap’. And created ‘Win Ben Stein’s Money’. Anyway, these guys are great.
Action begins again tomorrow @ 11a CT.
Photo: The Wardrobe Door