Wake Up, America: Here's Why Soccer Is The World's Best Sport

05/14/2014 02:40 pm ET | Updated May 14, 2014

I know, I know. You're probably either cringing at the use of "soccer" instead of football, or wondering how a sport that sometimes ends in 0-0 ties and isn't regularly broken up by beer commercials could possibly be the best in the world. But let's put all that aside for a minute and talk about why this game -- whatever you want to call it -- is hands down, without question, the greatest sport that ever was.

  • 1. First off, it's a global sport.
    Phillipe Lopez via Getty Images
  • Soccer is the sport played most consistently around the world. It's not sectioned off or dominated by one particular country. According to FIFA's most recent Big Count survey, there are 265 million players actively involved in soccer around the world, roughly about 4 percent of the world's population. Sports like American football, on the other hand, are predominantly played and watched in only one country.
  • 2. And the rules are pretty damn simple.
    Goldmund Lukic via Getty Images
  • Give or take a few offsides, corner kicks and yellow versus red card rules, it's just about getting the ball into the net without using your hands. What could be easier to understand than that?
  • 3. Plus, minimal equipment is required.
    Associated Press
  • No, seriously -- set up some cones, get a ball and you're good to go. Shoes are nice, but definitely not a necessity.
  • 4. Meaning you can play anytime, anywhere.
    Mario Tama via Getty Images
  • There's never a bad time for a quick match.
  • 5. Size matters less than agility and speed.
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  • Soccer may just be the professional team sport where size matters the least. Some of the best players, like Messi, Maradona and Romario, have been an average height of 5'5" or 5'6".
  • 6. But it's still athletically rigorous -- you have to be in amazing shape to keep up.
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  • Because you're basically sprinting up and down a field for 90-plus minutes. Don't be fooled, this game is not for anyone who tires easily.
  • 7. Most sports get an "offseason" -- soccer doesn't.
    Armend Nimani via Getty Images
  • For most top-flight players, there's a league season, a league cup, a club championship and international games all going on at once. If that's not enough, almost every summer there's an international cup or competition of some sort, not to mention friendlies and World Cup qualifying.

    It's the sport that never ends.
  • 8. Meanwhile, World Cups bring the entire planet together.
    Jasper Juinen via Getty Images
  • And basically give everyone one VERY important reason to party. The FIFA World Cup is the world's most widely viewed sports event. Around 715 million people watched the 2006 final match in Germany, while the 2010 South Africa event was broadcast to 204 countries on 245 different channels.
  • 9. And with all the international friendlies taking place, you can see top teams play without spending a fortune.
    Joern Pollex - FIFA via Getty Images
  • A friendly is exactly what it sounds like: two teams playing "for fun" without any real consequence to their current standing. Because not everyone can afford World Cup prices.
  • 10. Mostly, it's just beautiful to watch.
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  • If you're a true fan, you remember Nike's Joga Bonito, or "Play Beautiful," campaign like it was yesterday.
  • 11. Especially when players master incredible tricks.
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  • Your early "career" probably involved a lot of futile attempts at trying to make this happen.
  • 12. Soccer chants prove just how passionate fans are about this.
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  • And they may, at times, even bring a tear to your eye. And you know that "Seven Nation Army" chant everyone does at sports games now? Guess who started that?
  • 13. It's truly a team sport: Every person counts and anyone can score.
    Associated Press
  • Each team fields 11 players. Each one has a specific duty, but every position -- even goalies -- can push forward, help defend a play, take a free kick and even score.
  • 14. Women kick ass in the game -- there's a women's World Cup that also gets crazy viewership numbers.
  • And the women's game is just as exciting to watch as the men's. The 2011 Women's World Cup smashed viewership records, drawing hundreds of millions of viewers around the world. Soccer is also a huge draw in the Summer Olympics, and many countries have women's pro-leagues. The skill of these women isn't lost on their fans -- female footballers are some of the biggest celebs abroad.
  • 15. Sportsmanship is an important part of the culture.
    Getty Images via Getty Images
  • And even though there are rivalries, players usually respect one another for their individual talents and love of the game. This becomes no more apparent than when you see players exchange jerseys after a good match.
  • 16. Soccer announcers are far superior to all other announcers in the sports world.
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  • I mean, come on. You can hear the excitement in their exhausting "gooooaaaaal." If you need any more proof that they are by far the most passionate for their sport, just get to know Tiziano Crudelli.
  • 17. There are always new superstars whose fancy footwork or goal-scoring prowess seems to be a gift from the heavens.
    Messi & Beckham via Associated Press/Ronaldo via Adam Pretty for Getty Images/Zidane via Andalou Agency for Getty Inc.
  • Many great ones have come and gone. This year, everyone will be watching Argentina's Lionel Messi, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and Brazil's Neymar Jr. in hopes of witnessing the magic they'll most likely conjure up on the field.
  • 18. And there is nothing more amazing then watching a goal effortlessly hit the net.
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  • Especially when they show the replay in slow motion approximately a jillion times. It takes skill and precision to hit a shot from distance right into the corner of the net.
  • 19. Mini celebrations after a player scores are the best.
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  • What's that, NFL? You give 15-yard penalties for "excessive celebration?" That's cute.
  • 20. But most importantly, more people watch soccer than any other sport in the world.
    Associated Press
  • We're three billion strong and the most passionate fans on the planet. We can also be pretty damn coordinated, so be prepared for some craziness this summer.



    So, we have just one question for you...
  • ARE
  • YOU
  • READY
  • ... for the World Cup?

  • 13 1990 World Cup
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  • 14 Jun 1990: The USA team line up for the National Anthem before the World Cup match against Italy in Rome. Italy won the match 1-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Simon Bruty/Allsport
  • 12 2002 World Cup
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  • ULSAN, REPUBLIC OF KOREA: USA line up for a team photo, 21 June 2002 at the Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan, ahead of quarter-final action between Germany and USA in the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan. From L above: Brad Friedel, AFP PHOTO/GREG WOOD (Photo credit should read GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images)
  • 11 2010 World Cup
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  • Ghana goalkeeper Richard Kingson, bottom, blocks United States' Jozy Altidore, right, during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the United States and Ghana at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa, Saturday, June 26, 2010. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
  • 10 1998 World Cup
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  • 25 Jun 1998: Claudio Reyna of the USA kicks the ball in the match between Yugoslavia v USA in the 1998 World Cup played in Nantes, France. \ Mandatory Credit: Shaun Botterill /Allsport
  • 9 1998 World Cup
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  • 15 Jun 1998: USA line up before the World Cup group F game against Germany at the Parc des Princes in Paris. USA lost 2-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK /Allsport
  • 8 2006 World Cup
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  • Kaiserslautern, GERMANY: Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda gives a yellow card as US midfielder Landon Donovan (21), US forward Brian Mc Bride (20), and US midfielder Claudio Reyna react during the World Cup 2006 group E football match Italy vs USA, 17 June 2006 at Kaiserslautern stadium. AFP PHOTO / PATRICK HERTZOG (Photo credit should read PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images)
  • 7 2006 World Cup
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  • Gelsenkirchen, GERMANY: Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved (R) vies with US midfielder DaMarcus Beasley during the World Cup 2006 group E football game Czech Republic vs.USA, 12 June 2006 in Gelsenkirchen. AFP PHOTO / KARIM JAAFAR (Photo credit should read KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images)
  • 6 1950 World Cup
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  • English midfielder Thomas Finney (C) tries to head the ball between American defenders Charlie Colombo and Walter Bahr 29 June 1950 in Belo Horizonte during the World Cup first-round match between England and the United States. Heavily-favored England was upset by the United States 1-0 on a goal scored by forward Joseph Gaetjens. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STAFF/AFP/Getty Images)
  • 5 2002 World Cup
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  • DAEGU - JUNE 10: Clint Mathis of the USA celebrates scoring the opening goal during the FIFA World Cup Finals 2002 Group D match between South Korea and the USA played at the Daegu World Cup Stadium, in Daegu, South Korea on June 10, 2002. The match ended in a 1-1 draw. DIGITAL IMAGE. (Photo by Gary M. Prior/Getty Images)
  • 4 2010 World Cup
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  • RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 12: Clint Dempsey of the United States celebrates his goal during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group C match between England and USA at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on June 12, 2010 in Rustenburg, South Africa. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
  • 3 1994 World Cup
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  • 4 JUL 1994: TAB RAMOS OF THE USA AVOIDS THE TACKLE OF DUNGA OF BRAZIL DURING THE FIRST-HALF OF THE 1994 WORLD CUP MATCH AT STANFORD STADIUM IN PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA. Mandatory Credit: David Cannon/ALLSPORT
  • 2 1930 World Cup
  • 1 1994 World Cup
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  • FILES,- JUNE 22: US national team defender Alexi Lalas jumps in the air 22 June 1994 as he celebrates after the US defeated Colombia in their World Cup match at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. The US won their match 2-1. (Photo credit should read PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images)

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