Once every four years, the world stops for the FIFA World Cup.

But why?

For billions of people around the world, the World Cup is like the Olympics – only bigger.

Like the Olympics, athletes are sent to represent their country.  They carry the hopes of the entire nation, only there is no other sport – no bobsled or relay race – to salvage pride lost in defeat. There is just one sport, the world’s sport, that can give bragging rights to countries and send enemies into the streets under the same flag, wearing the same pride.

The World Cup is full of passion.  The simple love for the sport is combined with national pride (and occasional hate), leaving a densely layered pitch of emotions on a stage larger than any other.

Countries that have spent significant parts of their history at war find themselves matched on that pitch, a rivalry that was measured in blood a generation ago now measured in goals.  The intensity of such clashes is often indescribable. Brazil and Argentina, having won one-third of all World Cups, clash in a war of cultures, ancestry, and athleticism. England and Argentina are still not too far removed from the Falkland War of 1982. England and Germany are among many players from the theater of World War II who meet on the pitch with a extra bit of unspoken nationalism at stake. 

The World soccer federation (FIFA) decided to organize the first World Cup tournament in 1930 in Uruguay to commemorate its 100th year of independence. The World Cup has since been played 17 times in 80 years and only 7 countries have won the Cup.

And it is only after a grueling stage of continental tournaments that a team can become eligible to even compete in the World Cup.  By the time the field has been narrowed to the final 32 who take the pitch in the host country ever four years, literally thousands of matches have been played to whittle the field.

Then, and only then, does the nation have a right to fight through a group stage where a top 2 (of 4) finish is required to move on to a single elimination (or knock-out) stage of the tournament, where a team must win 4 matches in a row to become World Champions.

And, once every four years, a team does exactly that.  They endure the trials and tribulations and march into history as World Champions.  Their flag is hoisted all across their home country as their greatest hopes have been realized – they have been unified in glory, World Cup Champions.

Contributed by Daniel Rodriguez & Kyle Burkholder

Alamo Drafthouse: USA vs England World Cup Watch Party – Co-hosted by the Crocketteers

Join us on June 12, 2010 (1:00 PM) at Park North Alamo Drafthouse to watch the USA vs England World Cup Match in glorious High-Definition on the big screen. Stadium seating plus food, beer, wine. Admission is free with ticket. We will be selling Travis 250 memberships, scarves, signing up basic members, and cheering for our country. Travis 250 members receive free popcorn.

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