Paraphrasing from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show on Monday July 14, “Things are so screwed up in the world now, the happiest places on Earth are Germany and Cleveland.”
The references were to Germany’s victory in the 2014 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament, and the decision by basketball megastar LeBron James to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers this year rather than return to the Miami Heat.
So, as war rages in almost every conceivable corner of the Middle East, the American government remains at a standstill, illegal immigrants are pouring into the United States, and soon the only ice on the planet will be that which is in your refrigerator, sports manages to make at least some people happy.
The World Cup, which occupied the entire world (minus that portion of the United States that refuses to pay attention) for an entire month, has been judged a success. Brazil pulled it off, and while it now must deal with paying for the tournament and the creation of half a dozen stadiums it will never use again, we can all relax until 2016 when nations begin gearing up for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Social media has helped turn the world’s favorite sporting event into, well, the world’s even more greatest sporting event. It was reported that the final game between Germany and Argentina produced 280 million Facebook interactions among 88 million people. Facebook says 350 million different people held World Cup-related conversations during the month from June 12 to July 13.
Meanwhile, in the last two weeks the NBA landscape has shaken out, with James going to Cleveland in one of the best-played image reclamation projects in sports history, Carmelo Anthony is staying in New York for the simple reason that it means $59 million more to him than moving would have, and the Chicago Bulls are still unhappy they were pushed aside by Anthony while trying to figure out just what the team is going to do with Pau Gasol.
On Tuesday, July 15, Major League Baseball said goodbye to Derek Jeter with his successful two-hit night in the All-Star Game in Minneapolis. The game appeared to be a success, although the status of baseball in America in relation to the status of soccer in America remains a topic of conversation.
A Facebook post from a sports media figure in Chicago for whom baseball is his favorite sport said a tour of Lake Shore Drive late Tuesday afternoon provided the view of half a dozen soccer games being played and not one baseball game. It makes you wonder if, in fact, soccer will ever be anything more than the sport of the future in America.
So now sports fans in America get a chance to catch their breath for about one week’s time, because National Football League training camps begin for veterans sometimes in the middle of next week (the Buffalo Bills actually start on the 19th of July, but that is because they need the extra time). Soon thereafter, college teams will begin preparing for their seasons.
So, soccer enthusiasts, you had your fun, and maybe you made some inroads in the overall sports atmosphere in the United States. But those inroads will soon be forgotten, nay, completely ignored because the NFL is about to bull-rush its way back into our consciousnesses.
Are you ready for some (American) football?