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.
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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.
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.
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There's never a bad time for a quick match.
5. Size matters less than agility and speed.
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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
16. Soccer announcers are far superior to all other announcers in the sports world.
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.
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.
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.
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.