The Free Press, Mankato, MN


June 12, 2014

Courrier column: Really trying to give World Cup a chance

I really want to enjoy watching soccer right now. Want to embrace the World Cup as I do for almost every sport when it's played at its highest level.

But it's tough, likely because soccer wasn't the sport of choice for kids growing up in northern Minnesota some 40 years ago. It was football, baseball, basketball and golf, four sports that still dominate the daily ritual of athletic consumption.

It's not that I don't appreciate the athleticism of soccer athletes, who do things with their head and feet at full speed that most people can't do with their hands while standing still. The ability to kick that well with either foot is a simple, yet impressive athletic feat.

And they work harder in their games than most professional athletes, spending most of the 90 minutes on their feet, in motion.

The fake injuries and exaggerated flopping, as in the NBA, drives me nuts, but that has nothing to do with the game. That's whiny athletes trying to fake an official into the wrong call, which sadly happens in most sports.

Soccer fans are certainly passionate about their game, perhaps too much at times, but anything that causes people to have that much fun, legally, can't be bad.

Soccer should be fun to watch. On TV, it's easier to follow the soccer ball than a hockey puck, and the players aren't loaded down with gear, their faces easily seen. But it would be nice if there were more scoring opportunities.

Keep in mind, this comes from someone who will make the choice to spend several hours this weekend watching professional golf on TV.

And if the choice comes down to the U.S. Open or World Cup, the home TV will be on golf, perhaps because the stars are more recognizable or the game is better understood. Or more likely, the athletic requirements of golf are more familiar.

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