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Losing sleep for soccer? Not a big deal

POSTED June 18, 2010 6:52 p.m.

It’s not natural to wake up around the same time as the sun to watch sports, even for the most diehard fans. To me, sports seem to be more of an after-work affair, an opportunity to share a good time with family and friends either in the living room or at a sports bar, or something like that.

It’s especially easy to stay asleep in today’s sports world, where missing a game isn’t such a big deal, because it’s likely that someone you know TiVo-ed it. It’s a world where everyone is a sports commentator, thanks to Twitter and its ability to allow anyone to opine.

But waking up on Friday morning was different.

There was some World Cup action on TV. People across the world halted their dreaming to watch Team USA and its quest to create a mark among the world’s best teams. In Friday’s game, the Americans rode a blazing comeback against Slovenia to finish with a 2-2 tie, settling for a very precious point and keeping themselves in contention to move on to the single-elimination tournament.

For the fans, was it worth it?

“It was worth it to support America!”

I asked that question on my Facebook page, and that was the answer I received from one of my buddies. Just being up that early for the game, seeing images on TV of people sitting at bars across the country and reading the text messages, tweets and other forms of digital updates from soccer fanatics got me thinking.

Soccer has changed dramatically over the years. It’s no longer a sport that made sense to everyone in the world except in America, though I know at least a couple of people who are still learning. I talked to two friends about the World Cup and they said they knew the importance of the event but didn’t completely understand the hype. They then wondered aloud about how a winner is determined (simple answer: the World Cup is made up of eight groups of four teams, and the top two teams from each group, based on points, earn a spot in the single-game elimination tournament, where one country will be crowned the world‘s best).

With that said, they weren’t willing to wake up early for soccer.

The World Cup is being held in South Africa, and the time difference makes it a difficult task for Americans — even the ones on the East Coast — to wake up and watch. But on Friday, I realized that the hype has floated all the way to the Central Valley. A number of friends sacrificed sleep to root on the Americans, which means we’re gradually catching on.

It’s been worth it.

“That’s why I’m watching,” said that same friend, who’s also a teacher when he‘s not a loyal soccer fan. “There’s not enough to unify around in America these days, so anything that brings the country together, even if just for a little bit, is worth being part of!”

To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail csun@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.

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