By Sam Landsberg, 16, Hamilton HS
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I’ve never been a soccer fan. As an average American (at least, in this respect), I didn’t pay much attention to the world’s most popular sport. Instead I cared about a much more American sport, baseball. I played little league as a kid and my family are fans. But in the weeks leading up to the World Cup, I remembered how four years ago, it was fun to pay attention to it and decided to do so again.

I had heard about England’s star striker, Wayne Rooney. A few weeks ago I saw him in a four minute long Nike commercial on Facebook and then I stayed up until 1 a.m. watching videos of Rooney goals on YouTube. The goals he makes are incredible. I was instantly a fan. His celebratory slide after scoring goals was the final touch. It’s fun to watch him do that.

Sam wore this T-shirt to support his team since The Who is a British band.

I made the decision to go against my country and root for England. I already had an England soccer jersey (a hand-me-down from somewhere) and wore it to school on Friday, the first day of the Word Cup and “wear-your-jersey-to-school day,” as proclaimed by my school. I walked in to school and saw hundreds of other people in jerseys representing their teams and got high fives from some. That’s when I realized how much fun it would be to be a fan of soccer.

During Spanish class that day, we watched the Uruguay vs. France game projected on a big screen, and although it was a scoreless game, there was a sense of excitement in the room that I had never experienced with any other televised game. People were cheering and some were yelling at the players. I kind of got sucked into it. I wasn’t cheering for either team, but at a certain point I was disappointed when any shot was blocked because I just wanted something to happen.

On Saturday, I watched the England vs. United States game on TV at home. It was a much more exciting game. England scored in the first four minutes and I was immediately roped in. I jumped up and yelled, “Yes!” then texted my friends “goaaaalllllll.” The United States scored later in the period. After a shot on goal from the United States, the ball was in the England goalie’s hands, but slipped through and rolled slowly into the goal. It was ugly. I was disappointed, but I still thought England would come back.

Two of my friends (also fans of England) and I sent each other text messages throughout the game. When Rooney kept getting close to the goal my friend sent “How did that not go in?” “Ohhhhhh!! that was so close,” I wrote back. The game was tied 1-1 and I was hoping England would score again. As I sat on the couch, I started noticing that with every exciting play, I was jumping up from my seat. I had been converted to a fan of the world’s sport, soccer. The game ended in a tie. Since the United States has never been very good, for England a tie to the United States is almost as bad as losing.

I plan on following the rest of the World Cup, watching as many games as I can. It’s dramatic. Even when they’re not scoring goals, there are still amazing plays such as passes, attempts on goal, and the saves. I leave for camp next week and I’ll have someone send me e-mails with the results of important games. I probably won’t be able to watch the championship game because I’ll be at camp, which is disappointing. But maybe I’ll start to follow soccer with more regularity than every four years.