Did you watch the U.S. vs. Algeria game?
Insert loud yell, long run in circles, sloppy celebration and sigh of relief here.
In fact, I will type out my celebration, but for the sake of getting to the third reason soccer is the best sport in the world, I'll spare you until the end of this article.
Reason #3: Dedication
A soccer match is at least 90 minutes long. The U.S. proved on Wednesday that as long as you are dedicated to every second leading up to and into that match, you can come out on top.
In the 91st minute, Landon Donovan put a rebound into the back of the net to give the U.S. a 1-0 win and a trip to the knockout stage of the World Cup.
In case you don't realize the importance of this, I'll give you some perspective.
There are over 6 billion people in the world in hundreds of different countries from countless different backgrounds.
On Wednesday, the United States made themselves 30 men among 480 of the best soccer players and coaches in the world.
That makes the United States team among just .00008 percent of the people in the world.
Sorry, I have to repeat that, it's an amazing stat to think about.
Out of more than 6,000,000 people in the world, the U.S. squad is among 480, .00008 percent, of the best.
The reason they are among the best? Dedication.
Let me go back to Donovan's goal in the 91st minute. That was with just three minutes to play in the game.
The team had their chances, in fact they even scored, but had the goal disallowed again in another FIFA referee debacle.
Jozy Altidore missed a chip in.
Clint Dempsey missed an open net.
But the U.S. persevered, they stayed dedicated for more than 90 minutes, for as long as they had to.
Even the goal itself, a dedication of just a few seconds, a rebound of a shot that was originally set up by Donovan. He kept on the play, didn't leave it at the feet of Dempsey, didn't hope it all went well. He stayed dedicated to that play and it rewarded the minutes, days, weeks, months and years of dedication he has been through to get this point.
In my second reason that soccer is the best sport in the world, I touched on how everything matters and nothing exemplifies that more than the U.S.'s most recent victory, but without the dedication to play every second, knowing that everything matters, victory can slip through the cracks.
And it's not just the gameplay, it's the dedication of the four years prior to the World Cup, the realization that each and every player has to keep their skills sharp and their endurance strong so that they don't just make the national team, but that they are able to win.
It's the dedication in the practices during the week leading up to the match, the awareness that every minute leading up to that game counts just as much as the minutes in the game. It's the dedication to push your limits in order to be one of the best in the world.
And what about the spectators?
Let's go to the numbers again, more than 6 billion in the world, right? Well just over 300 million fans in the U.S. out of that 6 billion get to keep celebrating. That's .05 percent of the people in the world, another extremely small amount.
If you've been following United States soccer in the past, you know that we have not been among the world's best. The U.S. has never made it past the quarterfinal round in the knockout stages of the World Cup and even getting to this stage has only happened four times since the World Cup started in 1930. Needless to say, we haven't even caught a whiff of the ultimate World Cup victory.
To follow a team for years with one goal in mind (pun intended), to dedicate your time and emotions to every second of every game, no sport boasts more attachment and accomplishment when that goal is achieved because of the dedication running in soccer fans' veins.
It's the dedication to a small group of men that will only be around for a short time. Baseball teams, football teams and many other American sports teams all keep the corps of players around for long periods of time, but a World Cup team is never the same twice.
The four years of dedication to that group of men is unlike any other sport. I've been a Red Sox fan since the day I was born (hate me if you must) and while it was thrilling to see them win a World Series after an 86 year drought, while old men cried and cars were flipped in the streets, baseball happens at least 162 times a year. Emotions will naturally be dumbed down because of the recency of their attachment.
Not in the World Cup. Not only do spectators have to hold their breath while their team qualifies, they then have to hold their breath while they make it through the group stage, and then hold their breath while they play in each game of the knockout stage. It's like trying to win multiple championships all to get to the one big championship. It's the dedication through every one of these championships that makes soccer the most rewarding sport to watch and the best sport in the world.
Now if you'll excuse me...
YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! USA!!!!! USA!!!!! USA!!!!!
Copyright 2010 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.