Friday, June 11, 2010

Wake Me When It's Over

The World Cup gets underway today in South Africa. I'm sure that you are joining the rest of the world in hosting viewing parties over the next month and preparing to pour into the streets to celebrate a Team USA victory over Algeria. You weren't? Oh yeah that's right, we are Americans--and we couldn't care less about soccer.

I am a member of the generation that was going to raise soccer to the level of football, baseball and basketball in the US. We were the ones who were supposed to be inspired by Pele coming to play for the New York Cosmos in the late 1970's. We were the ones who were going to go out for soccer in high school instead of football in the fall. We were the ones who were going to turn out by the millions and stay glued to our TV's when the US hosted the World Cup in 1994. We were the ones who were going to "kick the ball around" with our kids in the back yard instead of "playing catch". We were the ones who were supposed to pack stadiums for Major League Soccer. And we're the ones who are now supposed to be enthralled by David Beckham and his anorexic wife.

Of course, none of that has actually happened. Yes, a lot of kids play youth soccer (due mostly to the fact that parents see it as a socially acceptable way to exhaust their kids so they will actually go to bed) but once they step off the pitch, those kids realize what a boring, unwatchable game it is. And spare me the "You don't understand the intracacies and subtle strategies employed by top level soccer teams." Yeah, there's nothing more beautiful than an overmatched team playing for a nil-nil tie--or one team getting the first goal early and trying to sit on that lead for the rest of the game.

What turns me off on soccer the most is the way the slightest bit of contact results in a player going down like he was shot by a sniper in the crowd. Then the trainers come out and carry him off on a gurney--like he's a Civil War Soldier shot during a charge on the enemy. Did anyone see Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks continue to play in a playoff game against San Jose after having seven teeth knocked out by a puck to the face? He even pulled out a few of the loose teeth himself on the bench before going out for his next shift. Even Tiger Woods played an entire US Open on a broken leg. Yet a scrape of the cleats on the ankle of a soccer forward results in the type of agonized reaction that Joe Thiesmann had when Lawrence Taylor broke his leg on Monday Night Football.

So you can keep the World Cup there rest of the world--along with your appeasment of dictators and despots, your socialized medicine and your crippling national debts. I'm more than happy to be an "ignorant American."

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