World Cup gives host South Africa a chance to shine

Posted: Monday, June 14, 2010

The following editorial first appeared in the Kansas City Star:

History is being made in the soccer world. And for a full month, much of the world will celebrate. It's time to join in.

The World Cup is kicking off, and millions will be watching a month's worth of "the beautiful game." This World Cup is in South Africa, the first sporting event of such magnitude on the African continent, and is a chance for the sub-Saharan region to show Africa has arrived. We wish them the best of luck.

The games began Friday in Johannesburg. After winding through nine stadiums across the nation, the monthlong tournament will end July 11, in the same spot. In that time, the English will sing, Brazilians will dance, South Africans will annoy television audiences with vuvuzelas - long plastic horns played loudly and incessantly - and Americans will chant "USA-USA."

Will this tournament be a success? The World Cup is the most popular sporting event on earth. (In 2006, the cumulative TV audience was 26 billion, meaning, on average, every person on earth watched three and half games.)

Every four years, the World Cup is the world's biggest party. Four years ago, it rejuvenated Germany. This summer there's hope it will establish South Africa. In four years, it will land in Brazil. After that, there's hope it will return to the United States, and some games could be played in Kansas City.

For now, remember the cliche: The balls are round. The games are 90 minutes. Anything can happen.

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