Friday marks the start of the World Cup, which for a soccer fan like me, is a month of pure nirvana. As a writer for ESPN.com, I have the good fortune of being able to watch each and every game, and not feel guilty, since it is in fact, my work.
Those of you interested in playing a March Madness-style select the winners game can find one here.
I wanted to take a moment to explain one thing I wrote in the introduction to this game, as it has been the source of several e-mails from people with nothing better to do than attempt to find fault with my writing, where frankly, none exists.
I state that the tournament "will be watched by a worldwide audience of more than 26 billion people" and this has resulted in an unexpected bevy of criticism sent my way. Here's a sample:
"There's only about 7 billion people in the world. In your article... you mentioned that the World Cup will have an audience of 26 billion people. This would be impossible... Just thought you should know."
To this I simply respond... If I had said 3,674,495 people attended games at Yankee Stadium last season would you bat an eye? Why would you, since that was the official attendance figure - and yet, wouldn't you assume that many of those who attended games went to more than one? So the number of actual individual people who went to Yankees games was likely far less than the actual attendance.
With 64 games on the World Cup schedule, if the same 1 billion people watched each and every game, then the total viewing audience for the tournament would be 60 billion people. It's simply adding up the viewing audience for each individual game, which is what the World Cup officials do when releasing the official "total viewing audience" figure for the event - which in 2006 was 26 billion people.
Mystery solved. Population crisis averted. Please go back to your regularly scheduled activities - all 26 billion of you.