Sport of the Galaxy

Sport of the Galaxy

Well, it’s almost time for that magical spectacle of sport that crosses barriers of language, culture, economics and religion. A competition that is so big, it transcends borders of state and country, as effortlessly as sunlight permeates the eastern sky just after dawn. It’s not the Super Bowl, the Indy 500, or the Olympics. It is bigger than all those events. I’m talking about the 2014 World Cup. Yes, that legendary tournament where the most popular sport on the planet is played in front of the craziest, most dedicated fans on earth. It’s called soccer in this country, but the rest of the world has called it football for nearly a thousand years and various other names for nearly two thousand years before that. Which, if you mention that to a fan of American football? You are likely to get a harsh, excuse ridden, broken record styled response that winds up sounding like Charlie Brown’s parents talking on the telephone. {{more}} Facts being what they are and opinions wishing they could compete, there are reasons why soccer is the most popular and successful sport on the planet. These reasons are exactly why American football will never supplant soccer in size or popularity. Oh yes, I went there Cowboys fans. Most valuable sports franchise on the planet? Real Madrid of Spain’s La Liga, is valued at $3.3 billion by Forbes. Second most valuable sports franchise on the planet? The Red Devils of Manchester United are valued at $3.17 billion by Forbes. The number three spot surely belongs to the Cowboys, right, or at least the New York Yankees? Wrong. The third most valuable sports franchise on the planet is Barcelona, valued at $2.6 billion followed by the New York Yankees at $2.3 billion and the Dallas Cowboys at $2.1 billion. A little surprised? You shouldn’t be. The Yankees are the most valuable American sports franchise for the same reason that the Red Devils are consistently at the top of the list. Let me elaborate with one simple explanation… #WINNING. The Yanks have won 27 World Series Championships and 40 American League Pennants. That is a lot of marketing opportunities. The Red Devils have won 20 league titles, 11 Football Association Cups, four League Cups and three Champions League Cups, not to mention a host of other trophy’s and accolades along the way. Real Madrid has won an astounding 32 La Liga trophies, 18 Copa Del Rey’s and nine Champions League Cups. Success on the field translates directly to financial success. The Cowboys have won 10 NFC Conference Championships and just five Super Bowls. It has been over 15 years since the Cowboys have won the Super Bowl. I would guess that with the emergence of Houston and the lack of winning in the last few years that the Cowboys days as the most valuable franchise of the NFL are numbered. Championships are great, but what about the clubs that are not winning the championships. One must understand that the entirety of international soccer is governed by a single body, FIFA. FIFA ties all leagues and countries together with a unified set of rules and guidelines. While American Football has the NFL, what else does it have for competition? That is it. But the rest of the world has their club level league, as well as a competition for club level champions to compete against other regional club champions and international friendly matches. So a team from England has the opportunity to travel to Spain or Germany or even China to spread the goodwill of sport. And that is just at club level, there is also the National Team which will compete in Olympic, World Cup, Euro Cup, Asia Cup or Confederations Cup competition. And while financial success is helpful, it isn’t the monetary value of a club or sport that makes it popular or in the case of soccer, the most popular on the planet. The only requirement for soccer to be played is to have a ball. It doesn’t take a helmet, shoulder pads, bat, glove, golf club or a racquet. It just takes a soccer ball. And that translates well anywhere on the planet from the tropical heat of Brazil, to the mountains of Pakistan and even to the poorest of villages in Africa. Put a ball in the street and kids will play. That is the glory of the World Cup. Teams representing the pride of their country come together on a field of competition and it doesn’t matter if you are a poor team from Ghana or one of the best teams on the planet like Germany, any kid can kick a ball. It may sound simplistic, but it is true. The rules are easy to follow and understand in any language, the objective clear, and the glory? Timeless. Soccer is and will continue to be the most popular sport on the planet. There are too many reasons in too many languages to list all of them. Perhaps the biggest reason is most closely related to the 3,000 years of soccer being played from Japan to England and all points between and beyond. Next year millions of people will descend upon Brazil for a chance to catch the spectacle live, perhaps for the only time in their life. Millions of others will tune in their television’s to follow from home. Brazilians will pray to avenge their 1950 World Cup loss to Uruguay, the last time that Brazil hosted the event. The entire planet will be enthralled in the grand spectacle. More and more Americans will watch every four years. Will Spain stun the world by adding to their 2010 World Cup and their 2012 European Cup? Will the German National team add to the pride of the recent success by Bayern Munich? Will the United States do the unthinkable? Who knows? Maybe in 3,000 years American Football will be the most popular sport on the planet? Anything is possible after all. Only time will tell. But rest assured that by then, soccer will be the most popular sport in the galaxy.