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January 3, 2014

Fightin' Words: New Year brings new sport to OKC

CHICKASHA —

This year has a lot to live up to sports wise if it is to match 2013.

Many milestones were reached, so many great games played out in front of our eyes, and it was this way from the global stage all the way down to the state. Any Murray won Wimbledon, Phil Mickelson finally won The Open, the Sooner ladies took the national softball crown, Bedlam was as crazy as it could get, and Cowboys basketball is going full steam ahead into the Big 12 calendar behind the exploits of Marcus Smart. In between, we had an exciting, drama-filled Super Bowl and one of the best Iron Bowl games this generation will ever see.

Of course the biggest moment of 2014 may have already happened, since by the time this column goes of to print the Sugar Bowl will be underway. Aside from that potential upset, the biggest change in the Oklahoma sports landscape that could mark 2014 will not come from one of the already established sports. One only has to look at the biggest sporting event on the calendar and some fresh activity out of Oklahoma City to realize this.

It is a fact that the World Cup, soccer's most famous tournament, is the world's most watched event. It is estimated 700 million people watched the final of the tournament in 2010. Out of those, 111.6 million in the United States watched at least six minutes of the tournament, a 22 percent increase from the reach in 2006, according to The Nielsen Company. By contrast, the Super Bowl had 111.3 million American viewers in 2013, and that was also record.

What's interesting about the 2014 installation of the World Cup, held in Brazil, is that it comes at a time when Oklahoma is reaching its own soccer milestone. The Oklahoma City Energy FC (which stands for Football Club) will begin playing in the USL PRO league in March of this year. It appears as though the timing could not be more perfect.

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