America is so far behind the rest of the world that we swear up and down that football, baseball or basketball is the Alpha and Omega of the sports world. But we are sadly mistaken; our favorite pastimes don’t even come in a distant second to the most watched sport, soccer. The only time we get excited is during the Olympics and World Cup and still its reserved as we root for our country, not for the sport.
But outside of the US soccer is king. How many kings, 3.5 billion fans worth of followers. You still think the little fanfare the NBA and NFL has, has anything on soccer? For as big as soccer is, there is a king, a leader, an ambassador to the sport, a man so large that his shortcomings are mentioned in whispers, I’m talking about Lionel Messi.
Messi is not the Michael Jordan, Peyton Manning, Wayne Gretzky or Babe Ruth of soccer, he’s all rolled into one, the dominant force behind the most dominant sport, he is king. He’s the athlete that our favorite athletes look up to. But he is not without his critics or flaws. To be fair, even Superman has his. Messi has tried but can never bring the World Cup home and for all the success that he has had over his career he may go down as the greatest loser in World Cup history, but is it fair to label him as such?
For us Americans outside of soccer, the WC has no equal, there is nothing in the four majors that can contend with the rage. USA has qualified but once again if you’re not in the know, then we flip the channel if the USA is not playing. Many of us have heard of Messi, but we can’t fathom how big he is. We look at LeBron James as larger than life while James looks at Messi with a glassy-eyed gaze. But does he deserve that praise since he hasn’t won the big one?
Can you be called the greatest athlete when you have failed countless time with the world watching? Does the goal, assists, scoring titles, Player of the Year awards count for anything if that World Cup title keeps alluding him? I can’t compare him to James or Manning as they have never been in this situation, they were tagged as losers for not being able to win a championship in their league, but Messi has done that countless times. He has led leagues in scoring, assist, won the POY, but unlike Serena Williams when it comes to Wimbledon, Tiger Woods at the Masters, Michael Phelps at the Olympics he has yet to win on the big stage.
But is he a failure?
No. He has not been surrounded by the best teammates and normally it’s Messi vs. the world, but he has shown up, played his best, but that Kryptonite can make the strongest of men fall to their knees. He will get another chance, more than one but if he continues to falter it just shows that God wanted no one to be bigger than him, Messi comes close, but even kings must be humbled during their reign.