by Becky Sun
In January and February, my Facebook friends were abuzz over the Super Bowl. In March and April, it was all about the NCAA. Memorial Day brought talk of the Indy 500. But now that the quadrennial FIFA World Cup is just days away, I’m hearing … crickets. Perhaps it doesn’t help that the U.S.’s best soccer showing was placing third — 80 years ago. Unless you watch ESPN, you might not even know that one of the world’s most highly anticipated and watched sporting events begins June 11 in South Africa.
Indeed, soccer-crazed countries are everywhere but here. Global View’s Cultural Fluents apprised us that Argentina is so passionate about the World Cup that schools and workplaces are bringing in big-screen TVs and arranging snacks. (If they were to forbid watching during daytime hours, there’d be massive absenteeism anyway.) Spain, which is the bookies’ pick with 4-to-1 odds, is counting on a win to boost the nation’s collective spirits after being battered by the global recession. And in China, Netizens are posting tips on when to sleep — South Africa is six hours behind — in order not to miss important games.
Perhaps in another decade or two, when today’s American youth soccer players become couch potatoes, and multicultural members of Gen We grow up, the sport will become part of the U.S. fabric. But businesses trying to connect with a whole world of consumers right now should remember to root for the other football.