The World Cup Opens And A Billion Are Happy

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.

9 thoughts on “The World Cup Opens And A Billion Are Happy”

  1. Thy twain did meet today as I was talking about the World Cup with a friend at work.
    I had a serious question for him.
    Which will come first — Canada wins the World Cup of Soccer or the Leafs win the Stanley Cup?
    He just ran away with his hands over his ears shouting “I can’t hear you!”
    The guy is a Leaf fan and as well as a big soccer fan.
    I think I gave the poor fellow a brain cramp.

  2. I like hockey better than soccer. I do follow the world cup and will. One criticism I have about hockey is it is a richer person’s sport. Everything about hockey is middle to upper class. Poorer kids don’t have the same opportunity as better off kids. This hurts hockey a lot. In soccer, 20 kids just need one ball, four rocks to play. 20 players to play hockey will need a few ten thousand dollars worth of equipment, ice, etc.

    Whether it is a better game. There is too much diving, not enough rule changes that will improve the game. But there commissioner is likely a lot smarter than ours.

  3. Danno, that’s terrible. Everybody knows Canada will win the World Cup first. Poor Leafs fans. I really feel, with all my heart, that within the next ten to twenty years, they’ll make the playoffs. Seriously.

  4. Mayo, I like the new handle – Mayo-naldo. Good one. You’re absolutely right. Hockey’s a game where money is needed. And that’s why soccer is so global. I do appreciate the fact that soccer is worldwide, but there is too much diving and looking like they just been shot by a cannon, only to re-appear 5 minutes later. Never liked that at all. I was at a big game once, in St. Petersburg, Russia between Zenit and Moscow Locomotive. It was interesting, but I never got excited and didn’t see one body check.

  5. disco is massively popular too…………….. hockey is the blues. much cooler altho wayyyyyyyy less popular…. no accounting for most people’s taste but i defend to the death their right to have bad taste………bla bla bla

  6. I’m with you all the way here. I’ll probably play soccer before hockey, hell I don’t even own a hockey stick any more. I’ll watch the World Cup because it’s this year’s fad. But passion, never.
    Growing up I always wondered why hockey players were paid so much less than players in other sports. This despite playing harder with more skill and still being more humble than others. Now after expansion chasing southern US $$, I regret my earlier wishes.

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