For years, I've observed from a distance the way the rest of the world holds soccer (or football, as they all say) in such high regard. I just didn't get it.
Why all that effort for the chance of, maybe, winning 1-0? What fun is that? Never mind that the same thing can happen in baseball or hockey and I'll be excited. That's different -- for some reason.
But I must say that living here in Putnam County began to change my perspective a bit. As I've watched local high school soccer teams -- particularly runs to regional by the Greencastle boys and girls -- I've come to appreciate the game the World loves so much.
Then I started to have a passing interest in Euro 2008 and even more in last year's Confederation's Cup.
But I've thrown myself fully into this World Cup. Even after working until 1 a.m., I'll drag myself out of bed to at least watch the second half of the games that begin at 7:30 a.m.
Yesterday's U.S.A. vs. Algeria game, though, really made me start to understand what all the Guiness-guzzling hooligans and vuvuzela-blowing crazies are raving about.
It is precisely the lack of scoring that makes this game so rewarding.
After watching a ref muff a call against Slovenia to cost us a game, I was mad. When the same thing happened again, I was outraged. Add to that two missed red card offenses against Algeria and our complete inability to score on a wide-open net, I was furious.
I had given up on United States soccer approximately 17 times before Donovan found the back of the net shortly before noon EST. However, when he did, I realized it was all worth it. Sure, it had been way too stressful. It would have been easier to score an early goal. It would have caused me a lot less anger had I not been convinced that all FIFA refs were card-carrying members of al Qaeda. (Actually, I still consider this a possibility. Check back with me during the knockout stage.)
But it's all of this that makes the whole things so worth it. It's like falling in love. Sure, there's like an 85-percent chance of getting your heart absolutely crushed, but it's so worth it when it works.
And for those moments of elation in the 91st minute Wednesday, it was totally working.
Check back with me on Saturday, though. We'll have to see what the Ghana game brings.
I had a Ghanaian roommate in college. I'd like to send him a message to talk smack, but I'm all ready too worried about being a jinx.
This new soccer obsession can't be healthy.