On Thursday, I sat at my desk, the sounds of the first match of the 2014 World Cup mingling with the clicks of computer mice and keyboard keys in the newsroom.
They are lovely sounds really.
I love soccer. And every few years, my family and I will breathe soccer for a month as the World Cup plays out, both the men’s tournament and the women’s, which is set to begin on June 6, 2015 in Canada.
There is always so much anticipation leading up to the actual beginning of the tournament, and last Thursday I watched the clock intently, just waiting for the start time of the first match pitting host country Brazil against Croatia.
During the subsequent days, the sounds have been tucked in my ear, heard through ear buds I keep attached to my computer.
Only in the United States, I think, is soccer known as soccer. Everywhere else it’s football, which makes absolutely perfect sense.
Russian composer and pianist Dmitri Shostakovich, and avid soccer fan, once said, “Football is the ballet of the masses.”
I can’t say with certainty what Shostakovich meant, but I understand it to mean that it’s for everyone, and even composed of everyone.
Like most sports, soccer is open to the masses, and enjoyed by the masses, too.
It’s not stuck up or exclusionary.
It’s simple and can be played anywhere.
What I understand about soccer is not much. I only recently learned what hat tricks are and I can’t keep up with when and where off sides occurs or all the circumstances surrounding a free kick.
What I know without question is that soccer has my full attention.
Baseball does, too, but there is a whole lot of romanticism and history and family connection to that one.
With soccer, I never really had much to do with it until my stepson started playing at 5 years old.
And a decade later, the kid is good at it.
But as a family, we have become intensely interested in the game, and sometimes even watch a match or two on the many sports stations available through our cable provider.
And come World Cup time, soccer is what’s on.
It is love – absolute, unequivocal love.
One thing I am particularly enjoying this World Cup is the absence of the vuvuzela, that annoying horn that everyone and their brother was blowing on during the 2010 tournament in South Africa. Despite that extreme annoyance of the constancy of that particular sound, I have to give a nod to its culturally-specific existence.
And no vuvuzelas this time around is a good thing because I can actually hear the spectators and the commentators.
I believe, during the last World Cup, I had the volume turned way down or off completely because of the incessant horn noise.
I have written about my love of baseball before and how that is tied to so many different, deep-running things.
The love of soccer is more tied to the sport itself.
It is intense.
Even if there is not a single goal made, the intensity of a match is not diminished.
It requires tremendous endurance and teamwork to maneuver the ball around the 110–120 yards long by 70–80 yards wide soccer pitch.
It can be brutal.
And while I can do without the diving aspect of the game, you know, when players over exaggerate contact with another player in an attempt to garner a free kick, it’s still a pretty grand game to spectate.
It’s all just so exciting.
And it doesn’t seem to matter who I watch or to what country they belong, soccer is soccer, and this is one sport that has the ability to pull the whole world together.
I, for one, am glad that the game has gathered more and more steam through the years in America.
And for the next few weeks, I will be firmly immersed in the goings on of that international competition, and very glad to be so.
Angela Shepherd can be reached at 937-402-2572 or on Twitter @ashepherdHTG.