This has been a World Cup for the ages

Published 4:36 pm Tuesday, July 3, 2018

can recall watching four different World Cups in my lifetime: 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018. While the sample size isn’t that large, I can say this year’s tournament easily takes the cake as the most exciting one of the four I have watched.

It’s not a fluke, though. Others who have been around for longer than I have, and who have watched twice as many World Cups as I have, agree. The 2018 World Cup is action packed, filled with new stars, familiar icons, elation, heartbreak and everything in between. It’s kind of exhausting just thinking about the rollercoaster ride up until this point.

I can’t imagine how the guys actually playing the game must feel.

Email newsletter signup

Perhaps more so than ever, I truly sense the importance of what these players are trying to accomplish. The pressure is unreal.

Each of these games has the weight of a College Football Playoff National Championship on it. While the viewership isn’t exactly on the same level domestically—26.2 million people tuned in across the entirety of the College Football Playoffs, while the 2018 World Cup is averaging about 2 million viewers per game—accounting for worldwide numbers will definitely open your eyes.

In Germany, 25.97 million people tuned in to watch their country’s team in the group stage. When the Germans won the World Cup in 2014, 34.65 million watched it.

In one country.

To say all eyes are on these guys is not an exaggeration. Combine that with the intense pride the teams bring to their performances, the intensity of the fandoms and the cultural significance soccer has in all these countries (not so different from how we feel about SEC football), it seems like it would be easy to let the nerves get to you.

Oh, and this World Cup tournament only happens every four years. Some of these players only get two or three chances to be World Champions. That’s even more pressure stacked on top.

I’ve heard people complain about the excitement a World Cup player shows when they score a goal. Sure, they run around, eyes wide and themselves in disbelief that they even scored. A lot of folks who makes those complaints haven’t played soccer, I don’t. Scoring just one goal isn’t like scoring just one touchdown. A goal in soccer is much more difficult, and opportunities don’t come around as often as they do in football. A 1-0 win in soccer could be compared to a 17-14 win in football.

These games are intense and meaningful to other countries around the world. The U.S. is getting there, but it’ll take another generation of young players, I think.

For now, though, I’ll just focus on enjoying the 2018 World Cup for what it is: incredible.