Sunday, June 27, 2010

Thanks #World Cup and #Team USA, I almost forgot

I stand here before you and admit as a North American-born citizen, I watched Saturday's match (June 26, 2010) between Ghana and the United States in the South Africa World Cup. There! I said it. It was a heck of a game and extremely hard on the nervous system as Ghana won the game in extra play.

It's no secret that many North Americans have an aversion to soccer (what people outside of North America call "football"). Gridiron football has been my religion for as long as I can remember, and having been personally involved in grassroots and junior football for over 18 years in Canada, there was one thing that you knew for sure -- football in Canada and the US means helmets, shoulder pads, and hitting. Let's just say, you'd be better off admitting you were gay in a testosterone-filled locker room than admit to liking soccer.

Team USA just may be the catalyst to change that mindset -- for some. Unless you've been hiding under a rock, even in Canada, the US bid for the World Cup in 2014 is a big deal. The bid committee is made up of a star-studded lineup (Bill Clinton, Drew Carey, Morgan Freeman, Henry Kissinger, Spike Lee, Brad Pitt...). While security may be a nightmare, the possibility of being on the world stage and the economic impact is intoxicating. After all the crap its been facing of late, with the economy and oil disaster killing everything in its path along the southern and soon eastern coastline, the US really needs this. And we in Canada have to want this, too, because as goes the US, so does Canada.

But getting back to yesterday's game. I almost (actually I did) forgot I used to really enjoy watching soccer -- used to watch it a lot BM&D (Before Marriage & Divorce), after which it was completely lost on my radar. I forgot I used to go watch live matches in Edmonton and never missed seeing Pele play on TV. Repressed memories.

Oh granted, I do have a lot of problems with the "acting" where players go down as if they've been shot, feigning injury. This is where my gridiron peeps step in and mock the sport. In "real" football, guys who spend the whole practice on the trainer's table are "champagning" it. And if you have a broken finger (even the quarterback) or something equally benign and choose to stay out of the reps (repetitions) to nurse it, you are never going to make the team for long. That's just a fact of life. Toughen up and be a football player. Notice soccer goalies never take an injury dive.

But where soccer has most sports beat is in the conditioning department. That's a lot of ground to cover when all you have to go on is your legs.

Now just because I enjoyed watching the US team play doesn't mean soccer will take over my TV any time soon. Gridiron football will always be my religion: National Football League and NCAA. But from time to time, I think I just may indulge again in soccer. And yes, I did sign the petition for the US bid.

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