Honey's HuddleBurgers, Bribes and Soccer GuysHeather Dowling

So, there we are in Chicago, visiting my sister-in-law. The first item of business was to meet her boyfriend… you know, give him the “once over”. But the very next item on the list was to get to The Fifty50, specifically to eat the famed “Four Courser”. This sandwich was in the running for the Best Sandwich In America, as determined by the Travel Channel’s Adam Richman. I wonder if they consulted with Giggler Annie Stamell for this one?

We get to the bar on Sunday and it’s packed! We’re told that for a party of 5 we should expect to wait an hour and a half. What on EARTH is going on here? Well, it’s the Euro Cup Football Championship game and the bar is packed. There are soccer – I mean, “football” – fans in team jerseys and colors, singing the Italian national anthem…and the anthem of Spain, too.

Now, I have never really been into televised soccer – yes, I call it soccer. My love of American football had left me indifferent to the game. The wide angle they have to take on television to capture the action of the ball, and the constant sea of running bodies makes it seem so very far away and slow. And those boys are always falling down and grimacing as if they have been tackled…though they haven’t.

But I couldn’t help but notice that at The Fifty50 there was a gaggle of female fans that seemed to be just as fired up as the fellas they were with. What gives?

Well, as we waited for a table, it became much clearer to me what the game had to offer female fans. That is, as they were doing player close-ups.

And here you are, ladies. You’re welcome.

Of course, David Beckham, of the Los Angeles Galaxy, has had the attention of American females for some time. His recent Burger King ad campaign has fueled that fire for sure.

But around the world, they have a flame-broiled love for the game of “football” and not just because of the hunky Mr. Posh Spice. There are more than 3.5 BILLION fans worldwide, based on calculating television viewing and attendance, per Wiki Answers. This makes soccer by far the most popular sport in the world.

What would it take to fuel a passion for this sport in the United States?

Harry Cee, of EPL Talk, seems to think the game has all the competitive drama an American sports fans could ever want if they were just paying attention.

“The best part of this sport is you can go anywhere in the U.S. and out of the country and you are guaranteed to find someone who follows the sport,” he says. “You may make a new friend for life based on that, whereas you can wear your favorite American football jersey to Greece (as I did) and no one would notice or care.”

So, I guess I can add “making new friends” to my list of reason to watch soccer, right behind “very cute boys”.

Seriously though, one of the most interesting points that he makes is that soccer teams span the broadest demographic of cultures and countries that you could find in sports.

“From every background, rich nation, poor nation, skin color, language, religion and whatever you want to point out, they all come every four years to play [in the World Cup].”

He says, “Even during the regular season, observe the make up of teams. They are a melting pot of players from all over the world and American sports can’t say that we really have that.”

Back to TheFifty50…

We let the waitress know that we had to have this famous sandwich before leaving the Windy City, but we just couldn’t wait another hour. In true Chicago fashion, she negotiated a handsome payoff and we were creatively seated in the middle of the crowd.

There I found myself, staring at the giant HD screens surrounding us and getting caught up and intrigued by…football. Who’d have thought? I can’t imagine the sport would ever capture my love the way the NFL has, but it could be my new favorite fling.

Images via Burger King Corp. & FC Barcelona

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  1. Oops, haha.

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  3. It is not called the beautiful game for nothing. Very hard to explain but on your point about it being “slow” it is often thought that U.S. games are dull, due to the constant points that are scored. I think the most boring game I have ever watched is basket ball. When there are constant points being scored there is no tension. I am sure other Europeans may back me up here. Not being disparaging just trying to explain. The international and European competitions are fantastic.

  4. There is so much more to soccer than perving on men playing. Actually I’m kind of insulted you think females only watch it for that reason. I guess unless you play soccer you couldn’t appreciate how much skill, endurance, agility and speed it actually takes to play a game. I am in awe whenever I watch a game as I sit there and think how someone can receive a lob from the other side of the field and just control it with their chest so it lands right at their feet. Such an amazing game!

  5. I’m thinking that other than a reference to the Galaxy thanks to Beckham, there wasn’t much research done into MLS. I’m typing this on my phone, in my hotel room in Portland, I flew here just for the weekend with a contigent of the LA Riot Squad (one of the Los Angeles Galaxy supporters groups) to watch the Galaxy dismantle the Timbers last night. MLS is already one of the most attended leagues in the world. There’s a passion for the game here already, but “the revolution will not be televised” :P

    If you’re in LA, you’re welcome to join us, stand and sing with us. I will personlly pay for your ticket.

  6. Ah, the true beauty of football :) I’m Portuguese, and in here you either like football or you should just accept the fact that your social life will suck for most of the year. So yeah, girls need to find something to look at while watching football (unless they’re actually paying attention…).
    I get all fired up when Portugal is playing. The general game-atmosphere is so amazing, nerve-racking and exciting! It’s engaging, to say the least. I must confess I like “american football” but football is part of my cultural identity and I wouldn’t have it any other way.