I know that you're all excited about the College World Series, as you should be, but there's another sporting event beginning this weekend that deserves just as much of your attention, and is arguably the most exciting international athletics competition outside of the Summer Olympics. The 2014 FIFA World Cup, the 20th edition of the international soccer tournament, begins at 3:00 PM this afternoon when the host nation of Brazil takes on Croatia in São Paulo.
Not sure if you'd like the tournament? Not exactly certain that you've got a rooting interest or a personal connection to any of these teams? Then do yourself a favor and, at the very least, check out SB Nation's World Cup preview and their statistical breakdown of each nation's probability of advancing in the tournament (and, eventually, winning). Then watch this video, part of a series of videos of members of the United Stations Men's National Team (USMNT, for those in the know), which features Jermaine Jones:
Jones is, believe it or not, a Mississippian... sorta. His father, who is from Greenwood, was stationed in what was then West Germany while in the Army. He met and married a German woman, popping out little Jermaine in the early 1980's. They moved back to the US when Jermaine was a boy, where he spent part of his childhood in between Chicago and the Mississippi Delta. His parents got divorced and he moved back to Germany with his mom, where he all but lost contact altogether with his father. In this video, he tells the story of him reconnecting with his father, as well as being a father himself.
Even though he has dual citizenship and did play some for Germany, he plays defensive midfield for the United States because he
wouldn't even be guaranteed a spot on the roster for Germany loves freedom, hot dogs, and the American way. But he's just one of 23 other guys who will each don the red, white, and blue this month to represent their United States on the world stage, and they deserve your attention.
So, before I dump more links on you (which I promise will be related to Ole Miss), here are the three things I will leave with you as a quick primer to being a fan of the United States in the World Cup:
- FIFA hates us, as evidenced by what you'll interpret as poor officiating, as well as our legitimate gripe that we were drawn in an unfavorably difficult group.
- Ghana, who the US plays first, has beat us in the past two World Cups. So, yeah, revenge or something.
- Landon Donovan isn't playing in this year's World Cup, something that's either an outrage or the product of brilliant strategic thinking by American head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
- Soccer's not lame. You like it. Kinda.
- UVA is the favorite to win the College World Series. Ole Miss is fifth in line behind Vanderbilt, Louisville, and Texas.
- Perfect Game features the beer showers in right field as a baseball tradition worth paying attention to.
- Too Live Crew came to Oxford once, and it was raunchy as hell. This is truly one of the best stories of Ole Miss nightlife in the 1990's, a time when Ole Miss reached its peak partying performance.
This is a thing. Give it a follow.