For the next four weeks we’ll have one of the great sporting events in the world, and I still hear rumblings from Americans who don’t “get” soccer. What’s not to get? It’s a beautiful game when played right -- as it most surely is at the World Cup level.
For the next four weeks we’ll have one of the great sporting events in the world, and I still hear rumblings from Americans who don’t “get” soccer.
What’s not to get? It’s a beautiful game when played right -- as it most surely is at the World Cup level.
I am not among those who think soccer will ever be a mainstream sport in the U.S. the way it is in other countries. The game is simply not in our nation’s DNA.
Yet, can’t we – as a nation of sports fanatics – appreciate something different once every four years?
For soccer haters: Do you think these guys aren’t athletes? By chance did you see the move Jozy Altidore put on an English defender to break loose late in the Americans’ match last Saturday? Altidore is a beast, a defensive back who plays soccer, and only the quick reflexes of England goalkeeper Robert Greene kept Altidore from scoring the game winner.
Is there not enough scoring? Then don’t you dare wave the flag and proclaim to be fans of America’s pastime – baseball. Baseball is traditionally a low-scoring game. Only until steroids came along 10 or 15 years ago did that change.
There are plenty of similarities between baseball and soccer. For one, slow, brewing anticipation.
Watch a soccer team push toward an opponent’s goal or assemble a set play and then tell me you don’t feel the excitement of wondering what the outcome will be.
The emotion is the same in baseball. A pitcher and hitter, in a compelling duel, with the outcome leaning on a 3-2 pitch. The hitter repeatedly fouls off the ball to stay alive. Fans, eager to know the result, guess what each player will do ... until, finally, someone wins.
Isn’t that why we watch?
Anne Delaney is a sports writer at the Observer-Dispatch in Utica, N.Y.