Sunday, June 27, 2010

My Name is Bill and I Don't Get Soccer

Today I learned that the U.S. soccer team lost in something called the "round of 16" and are out of the World Cup.

This after Friday and Landon Donovan's game winning goal. One moment you're up, the next in the gutter (cue the skier exploding over the railing on Wide World of Sports).

A loss to Ghana? 300 million people and we can't come up with enough players to beat a country the size of Jersey?

I don't get soccer. Never played it, barely watch it.

When I was a kid people said "Just wait until your generation can drive, then the sport will really gain popularity." I have been driving for many years, but not to soccer games.

Soccer is the world's sport, not America's sport. Not by a long shot. Ever watch a World Cup match and then tune in to the NASL, MSL, or whatever league is out there these days? Like watching the World Series before a game of T-ball.

Kids love soccer. My theory is soccer is popular with the shorties because it's the one sport adults know nothing about, freeing them to run around without grating, meddling parents.

I know baseball and have coached my son for years. Soccer? Two of my kids have played. I watched.

Let's not confuse participation with fandom, otherwise cycling and jogging would be outdrawing "The Bachelor" and "Desperate Housewives."

Americans play a lot of sports that they don't watch, particularly women's sports. I know an attorney who ran a now defunct women's pro volleyball league. When I asked him whether he thought women's sports would "catch on" like men's his "no" made sense. Put simply, when men get together they go to a ballgame. Women don't, and until they do leagues will struggle.

Ditto soccer. We certainly don't rally around the national team the way other countries do. Most nations shut down for games while we gather a handful of people in the lunchroom.

So good luck Ghana. See you down the road unless I am watching my kid chase a spotted ball.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Al and Rush Together Again

So Al and Tipper Gore announce their separation after 40 years of marriage at about the same time Rush Limbaugh gets married to his fourth wife. Ideology aside, they have something in common with most of us.

We can't seem to find the secret to long-term, fulfilling marriage. But man do we like to try.

A friend passed along an article about Rush the other day which suggested he was a hypocrite for marrying again while being against same sex marriage. I disagree for a couple of reasons: 1) I haven't observed Limbaugh portray his personal life in a righteous manner and 2) Believing in an institution and participating in it multiple times doesn't make you a hypocrite. It means you're trying to get it right.

As to the Gores, I was sorry to hear the news, as I am to hear about any union ending. None of us with any sense enter into commitments with the intention of ending them. If the essence of love is sacrifice, then to have a marriage of any length end is to experience grief. I dealt with a man many years ago who was fond of saying he had been "married and divorced five times to my wife of 36 years."

But this one seemed to resonate because they had been married so long and appeared to be happy, appeared being the operative word. None of us know what our friends or colleagues experience behind closed doors. How often, for example, have you developed a mental image of a co-workers' marriage based solely on one person's view?

Tipper and Al looked happy. Who knows?

Maybe it was for show or political expediency, maybe they "grew apart" (the catch all cliche), or maybe there are other things going on. They have endured crisis in the form of depression and the their son's near fatal car accident. Crisis does not change people, it just exposes them. And if you asked them? None of us have the same view, especially of the mirror.

40 years is a long time. I read an article a few years ago about couples who had divorced after 30 years or more of marriage. Why? A few themes emerged. They married young. They focused on the kids and after they "flew the coop" nothing was left. There is less stigma to divorce today than was when they got married. But the main reason seemed to be a realization that at 55 years or so of age they had another 30years left on earth, which begged the question: Do I really want to spend it with this man or woman?

Reminds me of the couple who went before the judge after 73 years of marriage. She was 92, he was 95.

"Why are you divorcing?" asked the judge.

"Irreconcilable differences."

"And how long have you known this was irreconcilable?"

"70 years."

"70 years," said the judge. "Why would you stay in a marriage you knew was over for 70 years?"

"Your honor, we had a pact. We wanted to wait until the kids died."

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Beware the Boppy

and other random thoughts.

Go Hawks!!

Of course I am excited about the Hawks chance at winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in 49 years. They are an exciting team, with young stars who hopefully will win multiple championships.

But let's get real. Hockey has a limited following, with plenty of room on the bandwagon. It's a great sport to person. On T.V. it feels like I'm watching a two hour traffic cam.

And I can't tell Duncan Keith from Toby Keith or Brian Keith, other than the last two have their Chiclets. If the Hawks rode with me on the subway I wouldn't recognize them.

Chicago is, in order, a:

1) Bears town
2) Cubs town
3) Bulls town
4) Sox town
5) Hawks town


BP Oil Spill

Disaster. A word overused, but not here. This is catastrophic. We seem to agree that we to reduce dependence on foreign oil. But at what cost? We love our cars, and cheap gas to run them. When will will commit to an national energy policy, something we not had for over 30 years?

And the people of the Gulf coast, who have endured and persevered, godspeed.

Imperfect ump

Armando Galarraga was robbed. The ump blew it, and admitted so after the game. But there is no way the call should be overturned.

As an aside, when I heard his name I thought of the way Harry Caray used to pronounce Andres Galarraga's name. Galllllaaaaahraaaggggghhhaaa.

I hate instant replay, in any sport. Why bother with umpires, referees or judges if there is a camera to overrule them? It's called human error, and it separates sports from video games. Baseball is perfect for it's imperfections.


The sewer which is Illinois politics continues, with wall to wall coverage as the trial starts next week. It will be great theater, and I would love to be a fly on the wall as Rod's lawyer tries to coach him as a witness. Can anyone contain this guy? I'm waiting for him to walk out of the courthouse, make a b-line to the cameras for his daily emoting only to be tackled by his own counsel.

Boppy boo boo

We have a newborn, which means we got out the boppy. A boppy (you may also know it as a "bouncy seat") is a wonderful neglectomatic device. An infant is strapped in the seat as it vibrates for hours, freeing parents for housework, reading, T.V., golf or activities which lead you to need another boppy.

But there is a hidden danger. The boppy has a wire base, really two long metal legs, or tentacles, that reach out and grab unsuspecting parents. This thing will find you at all hours no matter where it's positioned. The dangers range from bruised shins to broken limbs after a header down the stairs. Be warned.