Whereas baseball is the national pastime in the United States, association football -- soccer -- is England's national sport. You have not experienced a soccer match until you have shared the excitement with 5,000 to 90,000 other fans. Ten reasons why including a British football game in your itinerary is necessary drive home the point:
1. Share the soccer experience with 89,999 other fans. If you find yourself in London's Borough of Brent, check to see if a football game is scheduled at Wembley Stadium. The facility reports that it features 90,000 seats, none of which suffers from view obstructions caused by pillars or gates.
2. Stay for the food. At Wembley, there are 34 bars and eight restaurants that cater to soccer fans. If needed, approximately 10,500 hungry fans can enjoy a sit-down meal during a match.
3. Experience local team rivalries in person. Watch the drawn battle lines of the Arsenal and the Spurs -- on the field and in the stands. When your London travel plans allow, head for White Hart Lane stadium in Tottenham; it is there that the teams compete in their grudge matches, which locals refer to as the "North London Derby." Soccer Base shows that this rivalry is still in full swing and projected to continue for a while.
4. Come for the bromance. British football is not just a young man's sport. The BBC noted that the majority of soccer fans were "males aged between 30 and 50." Games featuring any one of the premier clubs are sure to lead to male bonding over fast-paced ball action and a few pints.
5. Shore up support for the local pub. If you spend more than a week in England, you probably found a favorite pub. Sunday league football, aka the pub league, thrives on local support that is usually tied to acquaintances from the local watering hole. If you are around the area of Hackney and frequent a pub in the area, come out for a game of the supported club. It is mostly a social event, but cheering for the team is a must.
6. Support stellar athleticism and be there when winning streaks continue. The Independent highlights that the Arsenal FC is currently the most successful British football club, well surpassing Manchester United. Attend one or more of the club's games to enjoy the finely tuned sportsmanship on the field and coaching from the sidelines. When travel takes you to Islington, North London, look up the Emirates Stadium, aka Ashburton Grove, which Arsenal calls home.
7. See one of the richest soccer teams in the world. As pointed out by the Guardian, Manchester United is the third-richest British football club in the world. Coming in behind Spain's Real Madrid and Barcelona, it brings in more revenue than Germany's Bayern Munich or England's Arsenal, Chelsea, or Liverpool. The club plays at Manchester's Old Trafford.
8. Cheer for underdogs. While in America only the big league teams make it, the Brits also support fourth-tier soccer clubs. Case in point is Torquay United FC in Devon. The Football Ground Guide notes that a sold out sports venue only accommodates 5,000 spectators, but even so the few fans loyal to the yellow and blue kit-clad lads cheer as loudly as the crowds at Wembley. Leave behind the big league teams and cheer for a true underdog.
9. Watch owner disputes resolved on soccer fields. More than a local rivalry, the matches between Manchester United and Manchester City Football Club have become a battle of wills between the FC's Roberto Mancini and United's Sir Alex Ferguson. The Guardian reported that the latest battle has to do with the title designation of matches played between the teams.
10. Appreciate a part of Britain's history. Soccer is an integral part of British history. Chelsea FC, the team's website notes, has a long history dating back to 1905. Although modern-day Chelsea fans are young and boisterous, there is always a nod do team history before and during the games. Hands-on appreciation of this heritage explains why fans are so loyal to the sport.
It is clear that a football game in England is so much more than just a few hours of sports entertainment. Matches combine history, local as well as personal rivalries, and dreams of going big-time by players and clubs. Who would not enjoy experiencing this type of entertainment in person?