World Cup fever has finally finished its devastating plague upon the United States.
The soccer world has had my complete and utter disinterest for as long as I have loved sports. As far as I am concerned it represents everything Americans are not. Soccer is about speed, endurance, pinpoint accuracy with your feet and incredible agility. Large portions of Americans are none of these. We are fat, slow and lazy. How can soccer be enjoyed by any of us if we are too lazy to even want to turn on a Major League Soccer game in our own country?
As a sports writer I have done my fair share of writing about sports that I have little or no interest in. However, for so long soccer has held the dark throne of hatred in the darkest depths of my heart. Soccer was a sacrilegious sport and did not belong in the same words as the Big Three: basketball, football and baseball. I do hold a small amount of respect for people who willingly play the sport. The amount of athleticism that it takes to be successful in soccer is astounding.
The other thing that blew my mind during the great World Cup affliction was the amount of money these world-class athletes make. David Beckham, midfielder for the English team, is one of the top 10 highest-paid athletes in the world. Tiger Woods caps the list making over $90 million in a year. The families of soccer stars do not starve.
So as I would watch the highlights of SportsCenter, during the soccer highlights I would usually change the channel or go in the other room for food and other such lazy American activities. I have the misfortune of having friends who express great interest in this deluge of disaster that is the sad sport of soccer. So during the World Cup I was forced to sit and watch large quantities of the game.
The first day I watched England play Sweden. As I sat on the carpet I observed my friends watching intently as the ball just went back and forth between the two different teams. I couldn’t understand the draw or the excitement at watching these poor athletes expending all of their energy moving the ball near the goal, which barely ever happened. So I was sitting there bored, trying to understand the idiots that I was surrounded by, when the most incredible thing happened.
An English striker named Joe Cole was passing the ball from out of bounds far from the goal line. The ball came to him so high that Cole had to bounce it off his chest and let it fall to his right leg. Then he hammered the ball into the top right corner of the goal. There was no room for error. One inch too high or too much wind from the right would have made it bounce wide.
This had to be one of the most impressive things I had ever seen in sports. While I was still attempting to realize what I had just witnessed I found myself in the midst of a circle of friends yelling and jumping up and down celebrating a sport that I had loathed all my life.
That one moment seemed to lock in my fate as a fan of World Cup soccer. I say this cringing to myself because I never thought that I would ever utter such a sentence. I continued to watch with the rest of the world as the drama of the Cup unfolded in front of us. I loved every minute.
I will continue to ignore a large part of soccer in the States and don’t have any plans to pay any attention to any soccer in any of the European leagues. But I know I must find a new sport to loathe and scoff at. I guess my only option left is to hate the demon that is destroying true athletes: NASCAR!