It is funny to see the transition in the U.S. from never really discussing soccer in everyday conversation to going totally crazy (in the good way!) for the World Cup. With so much hype, combined with the scarcity of an event which happens only once every four years, I find it humorous.
All of the ethnic groups start to show their jerseys and other merchandise. Unique types of recipes start getting cooked which almost never get made during any other time. An international flavor takes over certain U.S. sports bars; and… of course… the songs! The fan-generated music is one thing which differentiates international soccer from other U.S. sports.
Here are just some examples of the fun starting here in the U.S.:
- My friend Dan has his wife cook certain ethnic dishes that he hasn’t had in ages
- Jen and Michael have their kids learn more about world geography in ways like learning the capitals and other major cities of each country in the World Cup
- JB has some of his employees talk about the World Cup when people call about international moves, either leaving the U.S. or moving into the U.S.
- Even teams in other sports like the Brownsville Charros have their players watching the matches on their phones while traveling from town to town. One team offering family activities in Fort Worth are taking pictures of baseball fans wearing soccer jerseys with the team’s mascot
My friend has a kid who loves soccer. This is the first year where the kid will be old enough to appreciate the World Cup, so the family plans on watching as many of the events as possible. The ability to see the games being played, with all of the recording capability, is going to be leveraged to help the kid with school as well.
Here are some of the ways:
- getting a map of the world so that the child can identify the countries and where they are in relationship to one another
- learning the basics of each language for the countries they see including counting from one to ten, the alphabet, and other basics for each language
- talk about the cars relevant to each country since his dad sells pre-owned jaguars in Dallas and North Texas
- try out a dish tied to the native countries playing
What else would you recommend?
One of the wild aspects of the World Cup is the passion it brings out in fans in America, especially those who weren’t born here. Even more interesting is the passion coming from first-generation Americans who are heavily involved in professional and amateur athletics!
This is interesting as so many people tend to be “haughty” about their respective sports, but when the World Cup, the Olympics or any other sporting event which happens less than once a year takes place… the national pride comes out quickly! I found this particularly funny from a friend who is one of the boxing and jiu jitsu trainers in Dallas. He is so heavily involved in boxing, MMA, jiu jitsu and Muay Thai that you would think an athlete (born and raised in Eastern Europe) – focused on sports so combative and individualistic – would not pay much attention to a team sport which doesn’t have lots of physical contact.
In actuality, he loves the sport especially when his country plays or is attempting to qualify. He, and guys like him, can go on for hours about soccer and the World Cup and other FIFA events.
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