The following is a repost of the original which was posted on June 11, 2010 and temporarily lost after my site was hacked.

Today begins the greatest month in the world of sports.  People across the globe gather around their radios and televisions for World Cup matches.  While most Americans only care about soccer as long as the US team is still involved in this event, the rest of the world is consumed by football (or fútbol).  There’s nothing wrong with baseball, but should it really be called the “World Series” when the only international flavor is the Toronto Blue Jays?  Meanwhile 32 national teams from six continents compete for a golden trophy and global bragging rights.

While I have never attended a match, I have some very fond memories of previous tournaments.  In 1994 we spent a few weeks in Mexico as the competition was going on back in the USA.  Huge screens were set up in public parks throughout Mexico City so that anyone could watch as they passed.  We were amazed as life basically shut down while matches were being played.  Maribeth and I marveled as the entire city of Acapulco spilled out into the streets after the Mexican team tied Italy.

In 2002 we were with missionary friends at a camp outside Guadalajara, Spain.  Regular breaks from the work were included as we huddled around a radio to listen to matches.  Again that year, we heard the universal language of honking car horns that celebrated a Spanish goal or victory.  When we returned home to the states, I would wake up at 2:00 a.m. to watch the US team play in South Korea.

At this point, I should admit that I remain a fan of La Furia Roja (the Spanish national team).  If the USA does not advance into July, I hope to wear my red jersey all the way to the final.

It is fascinating to watch nations that are plagued by corrupt politics and poor economies find their identity and hope in a football team.  The zeal of fans is unparalleled, moving them to extremes unheard of in other settings.  I think of the Colombian defender who was shot to death two weeks after scoring an own goal in the 1994 tournament.  On a milder note, people will awaken early, call in sick to work, and forget their families for four weeks just to watch football.  What dedication!

I will likely make some minor adjustments to my life for this year’s tourney.  However, I wonder what would be the result of our service for Christ if believers demonstrated a fraction of the devotion known to true football fans.