I am not sure if all of you Americans--the majority of my readers--are aware of it or not, but something's going on right now in the world that has most of said world enthralled: the FIFA World Soccer Cup. I know it's not American Football, but let me tell you, I anxiously await the World Cup every single time, just like the European Soccer cup, and the Olympics. Those are my main sporting events, and every evening (it's in Brazil this time, so for me, the matches start at 6 PM, 9 PM, midnight, and 3 AM) I am glued to my TV set to cheer on whoever's playing. Besides my own country, I have no favourites and I cheer for whoever plays best, shows the most sportsmanship, or is the biggest underdog. My allegiances can switch mid-game if the criteria mentioned above shift to the other team. In general, I am as enthralled by Ghana playing South Korea as my country's team playing against anyone.

I was never a very sporty girl growing up, and I never really enjoyed watching sports either. Gym class was the bane of my existence, and for most of my high school years I wore a male fitted, oversized, t-shirt to gym class with a kitten in a hammock on it and the words 'do not disturb'. I joined my school's soccer team for a blue moon, but I think that was under duress. The only physical activity I enjoyed was swimming, but not the 'doing laps'-kind, no, the kind where you get to dive down to the bottom of the deepest pool to retrieve scrunchies.

I remember exactly what year I became interested in sports on TV: the 1998 World Cup. The Netherlands was doing really well, and my mom and I started to watch the games we played in. The next World Cup, I caught whatever match I could, and that tradition hasn't waned.

There is something awe inspiring about watching these lesser gods excel at their game--and right now, I will watch pretty much any sports competition that comes to my TV screen, save for tennis and cycling. The Summer Olympics are my favourite, but pretty much anything will do, including soccer, boxing, hockey, gymnastics, basketball, etc. Watching these men and women compete--seeing their devotion and determination--makes me strive to do better myself, to become even healthier, to become even fitter than I already am.

Since I progressed into Hellenismos, I have realized I watch sports competitions differently. I think of ancient Hellas, and the Olympics they held, and I can almost taste how it must have been, especially now the World Soccer Cup is in Brazil: people finding shade on the stands to get away from the glaring sun, cheering on their favourites, eating good food, drinking bad beer and wine, placing bets and forgetting about their daily lives for a while. Sport are a bonding agent, a glue in society. It brings together people from all races, all genders, all ages, and gives people--and countries--something to focus on other than trying to make life miserable for each other.

Of course, there is a dark underbelly: people forcibly relocated, money being poured into these events that should have gone to the people, insane amounts of money being awarded to some athletes but not others, depending on the sport, etc. etc. I'm not excusing or condoning any of that, but it doesn't take away from the fact that day after day, these people get up and do what they are passionate about, and we get to look at them and forget about everything else for a while.

In ancient Hellas, the main reason for the Olympics festival was to honour the Gods. Every event was surrounded by ritual and sacrifice, and the vows the athletes made to the Gods were the main reason not to cheat or conduct foul play. The winner got olive oil and a wreath and that was that. Of course, he also earned such major bragging rights that he was put up for life afterwards by the city he lived in. I long for those days, the days where the players weren't paid in millions, where the Gods were the focus of the games. These athletes must have been humbler men (and women); they knew they had only won because the Gods had picked their sides. That still gives you bragging rights, but not in the way you now see diva attitude on and off the soccer field.

Cristiano Ronaldo has a five-year contract worth $206 million with Real Madrid (earning him $80 million American dollars in salary, winnings, and endorsement fees in 2014 alone), Lionel Messi--star player for Barcelona--has a $64.1 million dollars a year salary, making his income $64.7 million if you include endorsement. These amounts are insane. Sure, you wear out your body around age 30-35, but no one needs a bank account balance of hundreds of millions of dollars to get through the remaining years--unless you go all out and spend everything on cars and houses. This is, of course, contrasted by many, many, other sports where athletes are at the pinnacle of human achievement and still hold down a nine-to-five just to make ends meet--many of the Olympic athletes, for example.

Financially, sports have become unbalanced--corrupt--but they still inspire. They have become a way for kids to do better--think of scholarships in the US, or kids in disadvantaged countries working their asses off so they might become the new Messi or Ronaldo and create a better life for themselves. Think of after school or 'scared straight' programs that include sports to keep kids about to derail from doing so. The hype created around these athletes inspires kids to work out, and in that regards, they are an invaluable aid in bringing down the obesity numbers.

Personally, it's not so much these athletes who finally inspired me to get off of my ass and get in shape, but it has made me more appreciative of their accomplishments. I jog almost daily, and I am in awe of the stamina these soccer players have. I know now what it takes to get rock hard abs like them, and let me tell you, it takes a lot--and I am definitely not there yet. I have as much sportiness in my entire body as they have in their left pinkies, and just because of that, it's a pleasure to watch them. Seeing any athlete achieve such heroic feats of endurance and strength encourages me to do better myself, and I hope it was like that in ancient Hellas as well: the Gods Themselves smiled down on these heroes, and I am sure people in the audience were inspired to receive that kind of divine attention as well--one they were worthy.