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Did you watch the U.S. vs. Algeria game?
Insert loud yell, long run in circles, sloppy celebration andsigh of relief here.
In fact, I will type out my celebration, but for the sake ofgetting 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. provedon Wednesday that as long as you are dedicated to every secondleading up to and into that match, you can come out on top.
In the 91st minute, Landon Donovan put a rebound into the backof the net to give the U.S. a 1-0 win and a trip to the knockoutstage of the World Cup.
In case you don't realize the importance of this, I'll give yousome perspective.
There are over 6 billion people in the world in hundreds ofdifferent countries from countless different backgrounds.
On Wednesday, the United States made themselves 30 men among 480of the best soccer players and coaches in the world.
That makes the United States team among just .00008 percent ofthe people in the world.
Sorry, I have to repeat that, it's an amazing stat to thinkabout.
Out of more than 6,000,000 people in the world, the U.S. squadis 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 waswith just three minutes to play in the game.
The team had their chances, in fact they even scored, but hadthe 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 90minutes, for as long as they had to.
Even the goal itself, a dedication of just a few seconds, arebound of a shot that was originally set up by Donovan. He kept onthe play, didn't leave it at the feet of Dempsey, didn't hope itall went well. He stayed dedicated to that play and it rewarded theminutes, days, weeks, months and years of dedication he has beenthrough to get this point.
And it's not just the gameplay, it's the dedication of the fouryears prior to the World Cup, the realization that each and everyplayer has to keep their skills sharp and their endurance strong sothat they don't just make the national team, but that they are ableto win.
It's the dedication in the practices during the week leading upto the match, the awareness that every minute leading up to thatgame counts just as much as the minutes in the game. It's thededication to push your limits in order to be one of the best inthe 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 6billion get to keep celebrating. That's .05 percent of the peoplein the world, another extremely small amount.
If you've been following United States soccer in the past, youknow that we have not been among the world's best. The U.S. hasnever made it past the quarterfinal round in the knockout stages ofthe World Cup and even getting to this stage has only happened fourtimes since the World Cup started in 1930. Needless to say, wehaven'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 goalis achieved because of the dedication running in soccer fans'veins.
It's the dedication to a small group of men that will only bearound for a short time. Baseball teams, football teams and manyother American sports teams all keep the corps of players aroundfor long periods of time, but a World Cup team is never the sametwice.
The four years of dedication to that group of men is unlike anyother sport. I've been a Red Sox fan since the day I was born (hateme if you must) and while it was thrilling to see them win a WorldSeries after an 86 year drought, while old men cried and cars wereflipped in the streets, baseball happens at least 162 times a year.Emotions will naturally be dumbed down because of the recency oftheir attachment.
Not in the World Cup. Not only do spectators have to hold theirbreath while their team qualifies, they then have to hold theirbreath while they make it through the group stage, and then hold their breath while they play in each game of theknockout stage. It's like trying to win multiple championships allto get to the one big championship. It's the dedication throughevery one of these championships that makes soccer the mostrewarding sport to watch and the best sport in the world.
Now if you'll excuse me...
YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! USA!!!!!USA!!!!! USA!!!!!
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