The World Cup starts today (ESPN at 1 PM, KUNS 29/112 has the ceremonies at Noon). It's a huge deal. Once upon a time it was only on closed circuit TV in the USA. Since 1994 that is not true. Here in America our interest in soccer on a whole is up. In Seattle the sport is not some niche thing. It is on par with any sport not called football (wait, this is called football too...).
I'm going to tell a story about my first interest in the World Cup. It was '94; I'm a young Gen Xer. I wasn't into sports until '93 really, but my interest exploded when I joined the US Army. In Basic Training I would get mailed clippings from the Seattle Times and Seattle P-I. Mom sent me Mariners stuff because that was in season, Sonics stuff because they were really good and the little mini-stories on the World Cup because it was happening at that time. Me and my battle buddy would pass the clippings from my paper and his and try to figure out what went on in the real world of sports. We didn't really want to know the real world of news/politics, because in a couple weeks he'd be linesman in an infantry division. In a couple years I would be an Arabic linguist. So rather than focus on potential violence we read about Brian McBride, Alexi Lalas, Tony Meola, Claudio Reyna, John Harkes, Eric Wynalda and more. Neither of us knew much about soccer then. We knew one thing - we, America, were hosting the world.
That's part of why today I'll be as interested in things like the Opening Ceremonies as I will Brazil versus Croatia (read this for knowledge). Today, one of the nations that can claim to be the home of soccer starts to host the globe. They will be celebrating their beauty, their rhythm, their football. The match itself is winnable. But this day is not just about that one game. It is about breathing life into a game that can sometimes be static and dull.
This is your open thread for all things World Cup related on June 12th 2014.
I will be watching today from World of Beer - Renton. You can find other places to watch through our Seattle Area Viewing Guide.