Not in general (I did pay attention in Health class), but why do you care enough about soccer to follow it this closely?
I saw a coach once ask his team to write down why they play and what motivates them the night before a national semifinal game. The coach then read everyone's answers to the team as they prepared for to leave for the game. The stories ranged from playing because of the support of their mother and striving to make her proud, to honoring relatives who have passed on, to dreams of playing in a national championship game, and to simply loving the game and wanting to be the best that they could possibly be. The stories of struggle, loss, heart, and emotion motivated the team to go on to fight to a 3-1 win while playing nearly 45 minutes with a man down. It put the power of this game and how it can bring people from all over the world together on display.
So I ask you, the Cupcake Nation, why are you here?
For me, I played baseball and basketball when I was little. They were okay, but didn't hook me. I played soccer at the local YMCA during the spring of '86 and liked it. That summer, I saw the first soccer games on TV that I had ever seen, the 1986 World Cup from Mexico. Once I saw guys like Platini, Strachan, Negrete, and Laudrup, I knew I had found something.
However, it was Diego Maradona and Argentina that really did it for me. Everybody talks about the goal against England, but it was the semifinal against Belgium that I'll never forget. I couldn't wait for the game to start all day, and then Maradona just took over. He was a one man wrecking crew that day. He went on to dominate the final a few days later as well, even without scoring a goal. To this day, I've never seen any player have a stretch of quality like that summer in Mexico.
After that World Cup, all I wanted to do was play soccer. I found a knockoff Argentina jersey at the one soccer shop in town, put an Argentina patch on it and #10 on the back. I begged my parents for a pair of Puma cleats because that's what Maradona wore. I then begged my coach to let me play on the field, I had pretty much only played keeper the season before. Once I started to score goals, I truly fell in love with the game. You just can't match that feeling.
That feeling, it's pretty indescribable, but I'll try. There's just nothing that matches a good game to me. I remember random games from my childhood, not so much for the game itself, but they way they made me feel. I remember an indoor game during the summer after I graduated high school, playing with my old teammates, and how we sat around for hours after the game talking about how great that one meaningless game was. They all have meaning though, don't they? Just a couple of weeks ago, I jumped in a scrimmage with my U14 team I coach. It was such a good game that we didn't want to leave. The stadium people had to turn out the lights to get rid of us.
The more I played as a kid, the more I wanted to watch. I would stay at the field all day to watch all the teams in our league. I'd watch whatever I could find on TV. John Harkes became my favorite player since we played the same position. I could almost quote you the Sports Illustrated feature they did on him after he went to Sheffield Wednesday. I ended up getting Lanzera cleats because he wore them. I ended up becoming a DC United fan because that's who he ended up with in MLS. Maradona, and then Harkes, those were my heroes.
Just like I remember games I played in, I also remember games I watched. US v. Trinidad when Paul Caligiuri scored the goal that put the US in Italia '90, the US v. Ireland game in US Cup '92 where Wegerle and Dooley played for the first time for the US, the US v. Brazil games in World Cup '94 and Copa America '95 where we just couldn't beat them, and the US v. Brazil game in the '98 Gold Cup when we did thanks to Preki. I remember all those. I've scared roommates (MLS Cup '96 when DC came back somehow), scared friends (the US v. Italy game in the '06 World Cup when I was screaming like a lunatic at the TV, somehow hoping I could change the mind of a referee an ocean away), hugged strangers (at the US v. Mexico game in Columbus in '05), and been brought to tears (the US v. Germany game at World Cup '02).
I guess what it boils down to me is the passion. The tears, the cheers, the anger, the jubilation, all of it rolled together is what makes this game get me like it does.
So back to the original question, why are you here? Feel free to share in the comments...