It was noon when we reached the Post Office. After processing the mailing label for our parcel, the man at the counter asked us casually,”Did you have any chance to catch the football this morning?”
We gaped at him. He said “football” which could only mean NFL. Surely he meant “soccer”?
R told him about how Japan lost to Netherlands and went on to describe the Ghana – Australia game. I chipped in about the red card and the equalizing goal.
The post office employee seemed to regret he couldn’t watch the game. “I missed it”, he said again and again.
Suddenly I heard a voice behind me. “Ghana won?”
I turned around to see a woman in full African headgear who had just entered the post office.
The post office incident is not unique; I have been having many similar conversations of late. A lot more people in the US seem to be interested in the World Cup this time around. We do seem to have come a long way from the 1994 FIFA World Cup which played to empty stadiums here.
Surely it cannot be just because the networks are telecasting every match live ? Or that the games are being played during daytime in the US?
Is it because there are many more immigrants in the US than in 1994? I can see that all of Africa seems to be supporting Ghana (possibly even more so now with Cameroon crashing out of the World Cup).
There are obviously millions more Hispanics than in 1994, and that is another football-loving demographic.
But there seems a lot of interest even among fourth and fifth generation white Americans (i.e. the ones who don’t consider themselves immigrants). What could explain this?
I don’t think Americans have suddenly decided to embrace the popular sports of the world. There is still hardly any interest for cricket (not even the 20-20 kind). But one could argue that football is a much bigger sport internationally than cricket is.
But still, the number of people who play football/ soccer in the US is probably the same amount as those who play lacrosse.
So why the sudden interest in football? Any thoughts?