A couple of weeks ago I had a beer or two with my friend Drew Ferguson, and as always, we talked a lot about his first love, soccer.
Drew has quite a resume. This Powell Riverite, and a friendly and classy guy, was once captain of Canada’s national team, and has also played in England and in the North American pro ranks with the likes of Pele and other legends of the game, several decades ago. Currently he’s coach of a Canadian squad comprised of players with disabilities, and they travel the world taking on other countries.
Over the years I’ve learned one thing thing in particular from Drew. Don’t debate him about the merits of hockey over football. He knows hockey’s my game and I know soccer’s his, and I suppose never thy twain shall meet.
I simply like hockey much more than soccer, feel it’s a better sport in many ways, and no one will ever change my mind. It’s what I know and love and feel, and soccer doesn’t touch me this way. But it doesn’t mean I won’t stop having a beer with Drew and listen to him explain the undeniably massive popularity of his game.
There’s room on this planet for both sports. And a big overtime win by the Habs in front of 20,000 screaming fans is all I need. A billion people tuned in to see France and Nigeria doesn’t have the same appeal at all for me.
The topic came up about the World Cup, which of course opens today in South Africa, and Drew’s ready. Soccer fans around the world are ready. It’s the biggest sporting event on the planet. But I’d rather watch hockey, Drew knows this, and he likes to compare.
What is it, a few million watch the Stanley Cup, but a billion watch the World Cup, he says. Soccer is far and away the bigger and better sport, he added. Bobby Orr or Sidney Crosby are big names for hockey fans, but soccer stars such as Ronaldo enjoy worldwide fame. Towns and cities around the world stop what they’re doing to watch the World Cup, and that doesn’t happen with hockey.
These are arguments I can’t deny. But rice is probably the world’s most-devoured food but it doesn’t mean it’s the most delicious.
I know it’s a the biggest sport, the entire world plays it. Poor little kids in bare feet in villages around the globe kick the ball around. So he’s right, and I understand what he means, but he’ll never convince me that a 0-0 draw between two soccer teams is more exciting than a hockey game. Or at least most hockey games.
And really, I don’t care if only a thousand people like hockey. It’s my sport and that will never change.
Bring on the World Cup. I’ll try to see some of it, although I won’t know most of the players. I just won’t watch it with delirious and burning passion like a billion others.