Regner: World Cup is must-see for sports fans
JUN 11, 2014 1:29p ET
My introduction to soccer happened in elementary school and was pretty uncomplicated.
Essentially, my gym teacher split my class into two teams, took us to the middle of a big field, blew his whistle while tossing the soccer ball in the air and then he walked away as we chased the ball.
So much for strategy and the nuances of the game. We looked like the dirty dust cloud that follows Pigpen around -- if Pigpen were a soccer ball.
Kick-the-ball-and-chase-it, kick-the-ball-and-chase-it, kick-the-ball-and-chase-it soon became monotonous, so we begged our gym teacher to let us play tether ball instead.
That was the first and last time I ever played "organized" soccer.
Over the years, however, I've come to appreciate the game, and beginning on Thursday, I'll be glued to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.
I know, many of you are rolling your eyes and thinking, "Get serious, dude. The game is way too slow and boring."
Point taken. Soccer doesn't have a frantic American pace to it. But America's pastime, baseball, isn't exactly a treasure trove of continuous action.
Soccer, like baseball, is a game of anticipation. That's why I watch the game -- waiting for something extraordinary to happen.
Growing up in Detroit, I was a fan of the Detroit Express, and when they received Trevor Francis on loan from Birmingham City, I saw greatness on the pitch for the first time. He scored 22 goals in 19 games for the Express and was of the best athletes to ever wear a Detroit uniform.
It was a sad day when the Express moved to Washington D.C. after the 1980-81 season. I was bummed out.
Francis had made me aware of what soccer could be. But it was Diego Maradona who turned me into a World Cup soccer fan.
He led Argentina to the World Cup title in 1986, dominating the tournament. All 5-feet-5-inches of him was spectacular.
Every time he touched the ball, there was a buzz. I couldn't take my eyes off of him. To my untrained eye, he was so much better than everybody else.
To me, it doesn't matter who wins. I watch because of the pageantry. World Cup soccer is an international spectacle.
I want to see the next Trevor Francis or Diego Maradona. I'm looking forward to seeing if the great Lionel Messi can lead Argentina to a championship like Maradona did. I'm hoping that the Americans prove their coach wrong and make some noise in the tournament.
I love sports because of the competition. Watching human beings overcome insurmountable odds and defy physical logic is something athletic competition constantly provides.
Every four years, the competition doesn't get much better than the World Cup, and the world stops and watches.
If you're a sports fan, you should, too. You won't be disappointed.