in which jackie is on the world cup bandwagon

I am not a fan of soccer/fútbol. I know very little beyond the basics, and I probably couldn’t give you the names of five U.S. teams without the help of Google (just tried it, just totally failed). My heart belongs to good ol’ American football, and I doubt anything will ever take its place.

But what I have discovered quite recently is that I have a major love for the FIFA World Cup.

Yeah, yeah. I know you’re going to call me a bandwagon-er (is that even a world?), but I don’t care. I ❤ the World Cup, and you all can just deal with it.

Okay, story time: In June 2010, I went to Madrid to finish up my Spanish credits. Also in June 2010, Spain’s national team was competing in the World Cup in South Africa (vuvuzelas, anyone?). This meant that, no matter where I went for my five weeks in beautiful España, I was guaranteed to see/hear an absolute gush of national pride for La Furia Roja.

It was pretty infectious, to say the least. Even though I cared next to nothing for the game, I found myself smiling and cheering and feeling a small swell pride for the country I called home for a month (my roommate and I even bought jerseys). How incredible to be in a fútbol-adoring country while their national team is being dominant on a international stage! It still makes me grin four years later.

I came home totally in love with the country of Spain, completely jealous of my classmates who were still there, and entirely desperate to hold on to the last bits of my Spanish experience. So I put on my jersey, grabbed my Principe cookies and Spanish Fanta (which is loads better than American Fanta), and watched those last Spain games of the 2010 World Cup like it was my job. I cheered so loudly when they beat the Netherlands in the finals that I’m pretty sure I scared my parents.

Viva España! Viva La Furia Roja!
Viva España! Viva La Furia Roja! And let’s pretend they didn’t royally screw up this year. *facepalm*

[Cut to 4 years later]

I didn’t set out to have the same passion for the World Cup this year as I did in 2010. I mean, I had only been interested in Spain’s games then, and nothing seemed to be drawing me to even watch the games this year.

Maybe it was the bandwagon effect, maybe it was friends wanting to mooch off our cable, or maybe it was just needing to understand my Twitter feed, but I have been completely sucked in to this year’s World Cup. At first it was just the U.S. games, but now I find myself needing to keep up to date on all the games and scores (I can probably also blame my FOMO tendencies). I’ve been more attached to my SportsCenter app this month than I am even during college football season, and that’s saying something, you guys.
Bacon pancakes in defiance of Belgium. Unfortunately Belgium didn't get the memo.
Bacon pancakes in defiance of Belgium. Unfortunately Belgium didn’t get the memo.
Most of all, I’ve loved figuring out different aspects of the game that I didn’t realize before. I’ve loved getting to know the players and some of their stories (#TimHowardAmericanHero). I’ve loved researching past World Cups and how they’re formatted and how exactly the Group Round scoring system works. It’s just been really fun simply to watch and learn and enjoy the atmosphere of the sport and its fans, even if it’s mainly through Twitter.
I love the World Cup. I love how it brings people together in national pride and how passionate and dramatic people get. It’s incredible. And I’m so grateful there was room on the bandwagon for me.
(Also, I’m categorizing this in “football” because it still totally applies. Deal with it.)
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