The rest of the world calls it “the beautiful game,” and for a month of World Cup soccer competition Americans get to see it on TV—the moments of explosive action and the constant flow of movement from one end of the field to the other, with hardly any commercial interruptions. More Americans (19.4 million) recently watched Ghana eliminate the U.S. in the World Cup than, on average, watched a World Series game last year.
Soccer generates passionate loyalties that sometimes erupt into violence. National teams become symbols of national identity. Americans were sorry to see their team eliminated, but the loss did not evoke the intense grief felt by the people of many other nations when their teams suffered defeat.