To our closest cultural neighbors, the Canadians, there is nothing comparable to hockey and winning the Stanley Cup. An appreciation for what is known here in North America as 'soccer' has been slow in building at the professional level.
But elsewhere around the globe, from Europe to South America, Asia to Africa, Down Under and everywhere in between, no game is bigger than soccer, or what is actually known as 'football' to the rest of that world.
Today begins the biggest event in the biggest sport drawing the most interest the world over as the World Cup gets under way. It has been estimated that approximately 715 million people the world over watched the 2006 finals in which Italy defeated France in a shootout for the title.
Held every four years, the World Cup is the championship of football. Competitions actually begin three years earlier, so for this 2010 championship the competition began in 2007.
The early competitions occur within geographic regions of the planet, as nations battle against their neighbors for the right to advance to higher levels in the tournament.
The World Cup tournament began officially in 1930 with Uruguay dumping South American rivals Argentina by a 4-2 score.
There have been 18 World Cup tournaments, as the competition was not held in either 1942 or 1946 due to the events surrounding World War II.