World Cup Fever Taking Over Austin!
2014 World Cup Phenomenon is spreading across the Austin community
“One thing is being proven quite clear: its popularity is soaring and not just with regards to the World Cup.”
By Jake Harding
It’s just past 5:30 PM on July 2nd in Austin, TX and THAT just happened. By ‘THAT’ I mean the end of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s foray into the world’s most coveted tournament; the World Cup of Soccer (Football World Cup to just about every other nation on the planet). Every four years it seems as though 90 plus percent of the entire human population dawn their country’s colors, buy a jersey, begin using terms like “pitch” and “draw” and “PKs,” and drop whatever they’re doing come game time to shout and scream and root for their team. It’s a complete blast and one hell of a good time. Regardless of how far a country’s national team progresses, it is by far the world’s most watched and followed sporting event. The Olympics? Get Real. The Super Bowl? Not even in the same conversation. The World Cup dwarfs them all and with ease.
As a humongous soccer fan myself (I’ll use the term ‘soccer’ to avoid confusion and sounding snobbish), I have mixed feelings about the fervor with which the United States periodically so lovingly adopts a sport I hold close and dear to my heart. However, one thing is being proven quite clear: its popularity is soaring and not just with regards to the World Cup. Television networks are now viciously competing for broadcasting rights of the Barclay’s British Premier League which is widely considered the most popular league in the world, aside from the America’s Hispanic population’s borderline pledge of allegiance to either Barcelona F.C. or Real Madrid of Spain’s Primera División (La Liga).
All of this preliminary jargon aside, soccer is one of the most physically demanding sports. Period. Women in particular have a tendency to revel in awe of the physique of some of these professionals and how can anyone blame them? These guys have virtually no body fat, often run five miles or more per match, and the control with which they execute the sometimes acrobatic handling of a soccer ball is downright amazing. While soccer is also one of the most highly injury prone sports, it’s undeniably a fantastic way to stay in shape. You drop body fat like a cheating ex, strengthen your core with compound exercises not really available in any one single workout, and develop obscene conditioning like Forrest Gump on his seemingly endless run.
There are a plethora of chances to become involved in an Austin recreational league. Austin Sports and Social provides some great men’s, women’s, and co-ed leagues for a range of different experience levels and ages. If your schedule doesn’t allow for an obligatory weekend after weekend tournament style set of matches, go down to Zilker Park. I guarantee you that at any given moment you’ll be able to find at least one person kicking the ball around. Most of the time there are too many pick-up games to choose from. And guess what…it’s a great way to meet new people, get that body back into summer shape, and perhaps most appealing, it’s free.
Soccer is the world’s most popularly played sport for exactly those reasons and it’s no small wonder that it continues to blossom in our diverse city of Austin as an alternative to dropping hours in and money on the gym.