[NTLK] [still ot but friendly] was Re: [ot][soccer][or football][whatever]

From: Rich Lindsay (rich_at_www.thisoldnewt.com)
Date: Thu Jun 13 2002 - 07:56:46 EDT

I think this says it all;

Mitch Albom Detroit Free Press, WJR Radio

MITCH ALBOM: Why we aren't like the rest of the world

June 2, 2002

Here we go. Happens every four years. Somewhere on the planet, they are
playing the World Cup of soccer. So we in America must get a lecture.

"Why isn't soccer popular in the U.S.? What's the matter with you? It's
the biggest sporting event in the world!"

With all due respect, no it isn't. Because the world, when it comes to
sports, is defined by where your world begins and ends.

If you're in certain Southern states, the world begins and ends with the
NASCAR circuit. If you're in Nebraska or Oklahoma, the world begins and
ends with college football. If you're in Green Bay, you have the Packers
and you have the rest of life.

This may explain a recent USA Today poll in which 72 percent of
Americans said they were not going to watch ANY of the World Cup --
which, by the way, has already started. Not that any of us noticed.

Three out of four Americans couldn't care less? Does that make us
pompous? On the contrary. It suggests we have other things to do.

Soccer may be the most played game on the planet, but the planet
includes a lot of countries that don't have the NFL, the NBA the NHL or
major league baseball.

None of those sports is No. 1 in Brazil, France, England or Cameroon.
But you don't see us yelling at them.

The truth about soccer

Let's dispel certain myths about soccer's tepid response in America.

First myth: If we were better at it, we'd watch more. True, most
Americans don't enjoy watching futility -- which is what our efforts in
the World Cup have mostly been. But you know something? We're great at
track and field and swimming -- and we don't watch them, either. The
fact is, the sports calendar is jammed in the United States. And there's
a long line of wanna-bes trying to break in.

Second myth: Bringing the World Cup to America will inject us with the
soccer bug. Wrong. It was already here, in 1994, remember? Uh . . . you
do remember, don't you? Everyone said soccer would zoom in popularity
and fans would mob the stadiums and everyone would be playing blah,
blah, blah, and now here it is eight years later and I defy you to even
tell me who won.

Third myth: Kids play it, so they'll grow to watch it. True, soccer is
widely played in grade schools. Then again, so is hopscotch.

Fourth myth: We are a nation of immigrants, so it is inevitable soccer
will be popular. Come on. America is a melting pot, and when people come
here, they more often assimilate to the new than cling to the old.
Otherwise, America's favorite music would be salsa and its favorite
author would be Dostoyevsky.

It's just like art

Now, unlike some American sports journalists, I take no glee in ripping
soccer. I happen to think it's exciting. I like the suspense. I like
that a guy could be bleeding all over the field and they never call a
time-out. I have no problem with the actual game.

But many Americans do. For them, it's too slow. Too dull. Not enough
scoring. I hear the soccer faithful screaming: "Argh! You just don't
appreciate it!" Perhaps. But the same can be said of French
impressionist art, and you can't force that on people, either.

Did you know that many of the rich superstars in the World Cup don't
even play in their own countries the rest of the year? They sign on with
the highest-bidding league, often half a world away. So the World Cup is
one of the few chances the natives get to root for their own.

We don't have that problem in the United States. Brett Favre plays here.
Kobe Bryant plays here. Derek Jeter plays here. We see them all year. We
see them win championships.

So maybe we don't need the World Cup the way other countries do. I have
long suspected its popularity is rooted in nationalism, anyhow. The
British want to stomp the Germans. The Brazilians want to stomp the
Argentineans. They all want to stomp the French.

Let them. Why would we want to stomp Cameroon? We don't even know where
it is.

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