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National Pass Time

Sociologist Daniel Buffington explains why Americans are underwhelmed about the World Cup.

With the World Cup approaching, we asked sports sociologist Daniel Buffington why many Americans seem so apathetic about the world's biggest sporting event, especially compared to passionate fans around the globe.

"To have any sort of national identity, you need to compare and contrast yourself with other groups. Sporting events are a really important way of doing that. The myth that Americans are exceptional due to our lack of interest in soccer operates the same way as other nations' claims that they are incredibly passionate about the sport. We contrast our reaction to the World Cup with reactions elsewhere, so we can say we are externally different and internally unified. All nations say this about themselves."