You know something? Despite the fact that I was a youth soccer coach for a few years, I never really learned to love the game. I mean... I understand soccer. I even know how the game is played. I fully understand the offside rule, how and when what color cards are used for what type of offenses, and I believe in the supremacy of the referee. I get it. I really do.
Having said all of that, as an American man of a certain age, I didn't grow up playing soccer like so many suburbanite kids do today. I am from Vauxhall, New Jersey, and we played football, baseball, tag and other games in the street. I played intramural football as a boy. The kids who didn't play football, played little league baseball... there were even some kids at my school that played lacrosse. Sure, we had soccer teams at my high school, but people pretty much tossed that aside as soon as high school was over.
Because we are Americans, and soccer isn't our game, that's why.
At least.... it wasn't our game.
Fast forward from my high school graduation (in 1981) to today. We live in a country where a bunch of guys (mostly over 40) stand around the office in the morning talking about how crappy the referees call were in SOCCER games! We care about the United States making it out of the initial stages of play in the World Cup. We even talk about vuvuzelas (WTF?) in normal conversation
To make things worse, while I was at the Barnes & Noble at the mall with my family this Saturday (Tyson's Corner) and kept hearing intermittent cheering... and I wondered what it was all about, until we were leaving and walked past the TGI Fridays. It turns out that everyone was cheering about the third-place game between Germany and Uroguay.
Things have changed in America, indeed they have.
Despite those changes, I have remained aloof about soccer. Oh, sure, I am as happy as anyone about our country having announced itself as a major player in the worl of international soccer, but I am jingoistic like that. Give us 20 years, and we will be beating the living crap out of the best that Europe and Africa can throw at us! But I digress.
As I said, I don't love soccer, I can't even say that I like it, but what I will say, with complete honesty is this: There is nothing like watching soccer when the game is being announced in Spanish. If you don't believe me, go here.
I congratulate the Spanish team for their victory, the Dutch team for getting as close to victory as they did, and all of the participating teams that qualified for the tournament.