Until the 2010 World Cup, I wasn’t a soccer fan.  I really couldn’t have cared less.  But then, in the summer of 2010, I went on a trip to Europe and actually got to experience soccer culture in its natural habitat.  And for some reason…I don’t know, it just flipped a switch.

People get a little into it in Germany.
I became a big fan.  And in this Inspired Monday post, I’ll at least attempt to articulate why soccer/football/footie/etc. is inspiring to me, personally.

Like with many sports, I think it’s the feeling of togetherness…I’m just watching a game at home on my laptop, but there are millions of other fans who are at that very moment also experiencing it with me.  When I get excited about a goal or a good save, or have that “ooooh, so close!” cringe when a ball just barely misses making it in, or call the ref mean names for making a bad call, there are all these other people doing that same thing all over the world.

Arne Friedrich of the German national team.  Pretty sure I was in Germany when this game took place, and the hills were alive with the sound of “JAAAAAA!”
For me, too, it’s part of my interest in exploring other cultures.  When I travel, I get involved in all aspects of that place, and I love learning about the history, how the lifestyles in that country differ from mine, the food, the music…and on this trip I took, football was part of that.  Seeing a game on the big screen with the crowd at Museumplein in Amsterdam, then seeing our taxi driver cheerily drumming on the steering wheel to the tune of the World Cup 2010 anthem “Waka Waka” on the radio later that evening after the Netherlands beat Brazil…trying to sleep at our hotel in Amberg and hearing the Germans downstairs going nuts over a match…eating ice cream in a cafe in Prague and seeing businessmen wander into the cafe just to watch a little of the game, without sitting down or buying anything, on their way to work…this was all just part of the multicultural experience.
Also, it’s fun to watch.  Whoever says that football is boring is not paying attention.  Goals are not the only exciting part of the game, there’s sort of a zen of footie-watching that you have to tune into.  It’s also about watching the teams’ strategies, seeing who can take the ball from whom, and who’s in possession more, the tension of watching set pieces or penalty kicks, tracking the players’ moods throughout the game and seeing who’s confident and who’s feeling pressured.  And of course, if you’re watching it with other people, whether at a live game or at a pub, there’s also the fun of talking to the other spectators about the game, or just eavesdropping on what other fans are saying.  
Yes, there are boring games (my first World Cup game I ever watched was Cote D’Ivoire versus someone, ending in a goalless draw, and it’s amazing that I didn’t give up on it right then), but I find nine out of ten games, in general, to be interesting rather than dull.
And then, during the World Cup…there are songs.  Cheesy as they are, I kinda love World Cup theme songs and anthems and fan songs.  Here’s the official World Cup song this year, “We Are One.”  Although I like this anthem better: “Dar Um Jeito“, it has more of that jumping-around-excitedly-cheering-about-goals feeling.  Then sometimes fans just make up silly stuff like “Schland, Oh Schland.”  And, just because I love it, here’s a song about the retired German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn (which is kind of hilarious if you understand German).
I haven’t ever made any paintings of soccer players or anything soccer-related.  Why not?  I’m going to put on a football song playlist and do just that someday soon.