The Free Press, Mankato, MN


June 18, 2014

US and World Cup soccer are worth our attention

Was in the Fort Myers, Fla., area for about four days over this past weekend on a family matter when I realized I had a few hours to kill right about the time the U.S. was scheduled to play Ghana in the opening round of the World Cup.

Found a local watering hole and decided to cool off while watching the game. The outside patio (or the inside seating for that matter) was not very full, which came as a surprise. I figured there might be a few more soccer fans out and about who wanted to watch the "big" game.

Got a primo seat right in front of a big screen, but, as luck would have it, I arrived an instant too late and missed the U.S. goal in the opening 30 seconds. "No big deal," I thought. "There's plenty of game left."

A couple of blokes (that's what European soccer fans call their buddies) to the right of me obviously had a little more soccer knowledge than I did, but the disparity between us wasn't great. The hooligans (those are blokes that are considered bad apples who tarnish the reputation of soccer fans) on the other side of me were kind of interested in the game, but not very much.

At halftime a debate ensued about the popularity of the sport and the positives and negatives of watching it on TV. It's a debate that breaks out occasionally, even when the World Cup isn't being played.

The hooligans, of course, maintained soccer was barely worth a second thought. Me and my blokes, however, said it should not be dismissed so easily. One guy probably put it best when he argued that it may not be something Americans want to watch all the time, but, at the minimum, every four years it's fun to get behind the U.S. players and cheer them on at the World Cup.

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