THE INCREASE: Ryan Hollingshead - The Greatest Sporting Event

The World Cup is the best sporting event of all time! Even though the U.S. didn’t make it this time around, I’ll be watching as many games as I can.

My wife and I don’t watch a ton of TV. In fact, with little kids in the house, we try to limit how much it’s on. But when the World Cup is on, all bets are off. It’s only on every four years! My wife, being a former UCLA soccer player (that’s how we first met), is just as avid about the game as I am.

I remember growing up with my three brothers and when the World Cup came on, our excitement and anticipation sky-rocketed. I was 8 years old when the ‘98 World Cup in France took place. All the games were early — between 4 and 6 a.m. — but that didn’t stop us boys. We’d all set our alarms (this was pre-TiVo) and if one of us didn’t get up, we’d all go into his room and jump on his bed until he did. It didn’t matter if it was a big match or a game between two random countries, we were glued to the TV.

I don’t have a specific team I’m rooting for this year, but I do love to see the underdogs come out on top. My FC Dallas team filled out brackets for the Cup, so I’ll be rooting for my picks to do well. The games are on constantly at the stadium, so we keep close tabs on the results. It’s just such great soccer to be had in every game — the best nations in the world playing against each other. What’s not to love?

Within our club, we have a lot of different nationalities represented. We have guys who are rooting for Nigeria, Mexico, Peru or random smaller teams that they grew up cheering on. It’s really fun to watch and be a part of this kind of diversity and excitement.

One of my favorite moments in a World Cup was in 2010, when the U.S. was playing against Algeria and Landon Donovan tapped in a rebound goal at the last minute! I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited watching soccer and watching our team move onto the next round. I was just pumped! You felt like everything was on the line, the whole country was watching and we only needed one goal to win it and bring us to round 16. That’s when Donovan came in for the offensive rebound and tapped it home.

The other day, I heard someone make a claim that 20-40 years ago, we had to go far away to all the nations to share the Gospel if we wanted to serve the Great Commission. That meant leaving the U.S. and going to places that had never heard the Gospel before. But now in 2018, so much evangelism to other “nations” can be done right in our teams or local neighborhoods! Many of the nations are coming to us.

Within the Dallas area alone, the diversity is astounding. When I think of evangelizing to these cultures, yes, there still is a huge need for people to go out into the corners of the world, but we also have a huge need to go out among those we are close to — those in our grocery stores, workplaces and neighborhoods.

In our stadium alone, there are so many new guys from different nations that come in every year. What a great place to spread the Gospel to the world!

Ryan Hollingshead, FC Dallas midfielder/defender

The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit TheIncrease.com for more stories and videos.

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