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.

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