Actually, here's why I like watching the world cup more than any other sporting event.
1. Flow. Any sports game is most fun to watch when there is flow. One team attacks, attacks, attacks, looses the ball, back on defense, defense, defense. No annoying TV time outs, no instant replays, no TV ads in between CRUCIAL moments in the game... just a game that is free flowing according to the players. I love it that way. Why can't the NBA be like that? We shouldn't have to go through 15 minutes of ads for 1 minute of playing time, watching teams shoot free throws after free throws.
2. Passion. I'm watching the games in Hong Kong, where groups of strangers congregate in empty shopping malls (it is, after all, 3 am in the morning when the games start) and cheer for their respective teams. Nuff said.
3. Worldly. Of course the Red Sox can claim themselves as World Champions when teams from only one country (okay, we'll count Canada as a second one) can compete. Makes perfect sense. Hong Kong has no respectable football team; but that doesn't stop us from liking the sport. Aside from America, the sport is loved by all.
4. Simple. Goal in net. That's all. Otherwise, the most complicated rule is offsides, which I learned when I was 6 watching a Japanese comic.
Anyway... it hurts to see the 2006 World Cup be marred by inconsistent refereeing, boring PK shootouts (still nerve wrecking though), and constant diving. Here's how I would fix them... actually, just the last two points. I can't fix refs.
Diving: everytime a player goes down, the player has to be moved to the sidelines and then wait for 2 minutes (I'd prefer 5). Sort of like a penalty box for the injured. If you are truly injured, 2 minutes is good for recovery. If not, you stand there and wait. This should eliminate some diving. Other new rules I would consider:
a. you can only roll over 3 times (if you've witnessed Argentine players roll over 8 times after they are tackled, you'll know what I mean)
b. no holding your face and smiling under your hands (Italian specialty)
c. no stretcher - players have to carry their sweaty teammates out themselves.
As for PK shootouts, here's why it needs to be eliminated. Generally in sports, you want the best team to win. In PK, it's a coin flip (unless it's the English squad...). I want to know which team is the best team, not which won the coin flip. How to fix it? I don't know. Keep adding to OT while allowing one extra substtution? Make them play only seven players with free substitutions?
Alright. I'm officially intrigued now... but, before I go, I just want to point out that a pair of Chinese ladies have captured their second grand slam title (Australia and Wimbledon). It barely held any weight in even the Hong Kong news as World Cup craziness was on the same night. A big big step for Chinese tennis.