South Africa to Santa Barbara Day 28: Once Every Four Years - Olympics vs. World Cup?

The Summer Olympics and the World Cup are huge events, but which is better?

July 8, 2010

Follow the 2010 World Cup with the UCSB men's and women's soccer programs all tournament long on "South Africa to Santa Barbara: The Cup is Coming" will provide daily commentary on the day's biggest storylines, featuring video interviews with Gaucho soccer players and head coaches Tim Vom Steeg and Paul Stumpf.

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There are two great events that bequeath the sporting world and they don't come around very often - just every four years - making their appearance that much more meaningful.

Both can fill a person with incredible amounts of national pride and give folks a stand-up-and-cheer moment in a sport they normally don't follow religiously.

The World Cup and the Olympics.

Swimming fans aside, Jason Lezak (a Gaucho, no less) gave the United States a jump out of your seat moment when he rallied to defeat Frenchmen Alain Bernard in the 400 freestyle relay and help Michael Phelps make Olympic history.

The U.S.-Ghana game in the Round of 16 drew a better television rating than all but two games of last year's World Series and all but one game - the seventh - of the NBA Finals this season which featured one of the NBA's best rivalries.

So, is one better than the other?

It's difficult to say because they encompass two completely different things.

As UCSB women's head coach Paul Stumpf points out, only 32 teams get a chance to play in the World Cup. That only 32 countries are represented means that those teams are the best the world has to offer.

Yet, in the Olympics, more countries can be represented through numerous sports, causing a sense of national pride to come forth in various ways.

Ask an average American which they prefer and the answer would likely be the Summer Olympics. But, ask an average person in most every other country and the response is likely to be the World Cup. Difference of opinion? Kinda. Difference of culture? Absolutely.

Seeing an American win a gold medal and hearing the Star Spangled Banner is an incredible, goose bump feeling. It draws a huge amount of satisfaction for the winner and the countrymen watching at home.

What hurts the Olympics is that NBC plays the main events on a tape delay. The World Cup is shown live so people rise at 4 a.m. to catch a match. When's the last time you set an alarm hours before work to watch the equestrian event?

However, if you really want to know what fans prefer, all you'd have to do is check out all the public squares across the world that televised a game and seen the scene. Massive amounts of people crowding in one area and living and dying with each shot or missed opportunity. The celebrations were euphoric when a team won, thousands of fans dancing in the streets and partying with perfect strangers.

That right there, doesn't happen in the Olympics.


Season tickets start at just $75 and include one ticket to all home men's and women's regular season games and one College Cup All Session Pass. UCSB staff and faculty can purchase their season tickets for a reduced rate of $50.