Louisville was the backdrop for an awful stretch of my life. I moved there to take a chance on a job that didn't pan out in the summer of 2012. One of the only positives that came out of that two month stretch of my life was the Euro 2012 tournament. I had a good amount of down time during the day because I mostly worked nights, and because of this, I watched the whole tournament. I started to learn the players, and learn what club teams they played for. I navigated previously unknown territory by figuring out what the Champions League was and how it worked. Something was happening here.
The NBC sports network was not a channel that I really ever paid attention to except for if they were randomly showing a college basketball game I wanted to watch. Starting in 2013 however, they got hold of the rights to broadcast every single EPL (English Premier League) match. College football was still a week or two away from starting up, as was the NFL. There was nothing else going on in sports except for baseball. I decided to take the leap. Aston Villa shocked perennial title favorites Arsenal, and the crowd was absolutely losing their shit. I was hooked.
Over the next nine months, I ended up getting up early most Saturday and Sunday mornings to watch. I picked a favorite team (Liverpool) that poetically choked away their chances at a title in a very Cub-like fashion. When Steven Gerrard fell down and allowed Demba Ba to score the winning goal for Chelsea, I felt like I did when any of the teams I love have repeatedly let me down. The feeling like I just got punched in the gut meant that I really cared, and that soccer was now firmly entrenched into my sports-addled consciousness.
Watching the World Cup this time around was a much different experience for me. Now, instead of having to figure out who all the players were, I already knew them. I mean I still had to do a little studying about who the best players were on Algeria or Iran, but for the most part I had already watched pretty much every notable player for the best teams play for their club teams. All of these things made the experience of watching the tournament infinitely better.
I don't know for sure, but I don't think my experience is that unique in terms of how I became a soccer fan. The TV coverage has more than likely been a huge catalyst for fans like me who started watching the EPL. Maybe I needed something fresh after years of watching the same sports. Basketball was and is my first love, and I really don't understand how someone who watches hoops couldn't like soccer. The similarities become more apparent with every match that I watch. Much of the rise in popularity-specifically with the U.S. National Team- is simply people showing patriotism. It's fun to paint your face and cheer for 'Merica. I wonder if people will start following other leagues and players after the end of the World Cup. I know I always said I was going to do that for years, but never did. Now I'm literally counting down the 32 days until Liverpool opens up against Southampton. My brain is capable of outstanding stretches of bad judgement and horrible decisions, but making room for a soccer addiction definitely wasn't one of them.
Brendan Brody can be followed @Berndon4.