It’s likely I’ve forgotten, but I don’t recall the last World Cup generating as much interest in the United States as this one is getting. The advertising is everywhere, and beautifully done. All the sportscasters are talking about it, obviously, but so are the news people. Even John Stewart and The Daily Show did a segment on it last night. Maybe it’s just that everyone is so desperate to talk about something, anything besides the oil spill. Lord knows we all need the break.
Soccer isn’t exactly news in my family, though. It’s been big since I was in high school. My boyfriend and future husband went to a private school where they played soccer, something you didn’t see much in the U.S. back in 1960. (Damn, that was 50 years ago!) It was the perfect team sport for an average-sized guy. A decade later, it turned out to be a great sport for our son, too, as his dad and I coached, and youth soccer programs began to take root in the U.S. There were a lot of parents like us looking for a team sport where the average kid could participate, have fun, and not be subjected to the “Little League” pressure typical with football and baseball.
Now it’s my grandson and granddaughter out there playing. There’s soccer paraphernalia all over their house and their sports heroes are soccer stars. I keep soccer balls in my closet — a gold one and a pink one. And the whole family has season tickets to Colorado Rapids games, which are played in a beautiful state-of-the-art soccer stadium. (Granddaughter was once the youngest season ticket holder.)
It’s been a long haul for soccer in the U.S., and I don’t see it ever beating out football, baseball, hockey, or basketball. But it’s great to see how far it’s come. If you’ve never watched the game, now’s the time to check it out, while the world’s best players are going at it.