With over 16 million #WorldCup tweets, I would say that the USA is a “social”-istnation.
If you were not aware of how often the World Cup happens, it comes and goes as frequently as the Olympics; uniting the world in front of televisions across the globe every four years. Since the inception of social media, we as a general human population thrive on instant gratification, almost demanding the latest tweet to be up to date and the latest status to be posted on Facebook– despite our connectivity to the World Wide Web. Yet, and still, the World Cup has had tourists and nationals alike flocking to their favorite restaurant or bar to watch each qualifying game live rather than relying on social media to inform them of their favorite teams’ journey to the Finals.
Maybe that dedication to real-time viewing gave the U.S. National Team the “mojo” they needed. This year, after being ousted before the semi-finals for the last three consecutive World Cups, the U.S. National Team survived—making it past the Group qualifying tournaments to make their first semi-final World Cup appearance in over a decade. Granted, fútbol (or better known in the U.S. as “soccer”) is a worldwide sport heavily influenced by its European roots, dating all the way back to Ancient Greece and the Han Dynasty in 206 AD. When it eventually made its’ way to U.S. soil, it steadily trickled into the suburbs, nicknamed the “socialist sport”. That nickname may seem fitting, seeing that the regulations mimic socialist rules… but it has evolved to more of a social sport.
Soccer amongst youths was loosely defined as so: a few times a week you met up with teammates to practice with [more often than not] volunteer coaches. A few times a month, you may play other teams around your qualifying district to get a chance at the State Championship— that infamous gold trophy or medal –like you and your team were in a World Cup of your age group! But from a social viewpoint– those teammates became longtime friends, and those coaches became unofficial mentors.
Maybe that the competitive aspect of soccer was more downplayed stateside with younger age groups, promoting the leadership and team-building lessons soccer instills in our youth rather than the trophies that defined a ranked status. If you were lucky enough to be a part of a travelling soccer team, some of your first experiences of growth were witnessed with your teammates: people whom saw you the least, but seemingly knew you the most. The lessons learned within soccer live on throughout life; decision-making, team-building, and overall patience amongst authority.
In conclusion, the World Cup may have ended for the U.S. National Team this year, but their courageous performance has opened up a conversation amongst nationals who may have discussed LeBron’s next trade or whom will be the No. #1 NFL First Round Draft Pick. The U.S. National Teams’ appearance in this globally infrequent tournament has brought the U.S. together as a nation, has reminded us of our social worth and reach, and the power 140 characters truly has between the grasp of two thumbs.
Cheers to you, U.S. National Team.
Photos by Kortnee Leigh