Greetings from 2019! St. Patty’s Day here in Chicago is the craziest it’s ever been!
The beginning of the World Cup marks a significant milestone in the annals of American sports: It’s the official 50th anniversary of nobody here giving a shit about soccer. Or something like that. Feels longer.
Every four years, soccer enthusiasts – a small but mighty group akin to fans of the 70’s prog rock group Yes— in that there aren’t many but they’re annoyingly loyal and usually super high— proclaim that this time, the World Cup will take the U.S. by storm.
I’m still waiting.
Look, soccer is fine. Kids who aren’t too fat to leave the couch for a few minutes love to play it. In fact, for at least a generation, the prevailing argument has been that kids who love to play soccer will someday turn into rabid, pro-soccer fans. “Kids love soccer, so should you!” isn’t exactly an incentive for me to watch. Kids also love to play dress-up, and I’m not tuning in to watch that on TV. (No really, despite what you’ve heard, I don’t do that; and resent the accusation. You’re not a cop, are you?)
And sure, a lot of kids do play soccer, but then most move onto other more “cool” sports, like baseball, or basketball, or if your parents voted for Mitt Romney, lacrosse. And it’s doubtful that a fun AYSO experience when you’re 9 means you’re going to clear your adult workday to watch Ghana play Germany. (Trivia: 9 out of 10 people who voted for Mitt Romney think Ghana is an exotic STD. And they’re not entirely wrong.)
To those reading this somewhat incredulously, I understand. It’s not easy to accept that nobody else cares about your hobby. But your feelings don’t negate the validity of the point. Even the U.S. men’s coach agrees that soccer is B.S. He left the best player in the country, Landon Donovan, off the World Cup team and then said there’s no chance they’d win. Now that’s some inspiring, Red Auerbach-type leadership right there! Or perhaps he’s just an idiot, in which case he’ll fit in beautifully as the next Cubs manager after Renteria is fired in October.
Besides, America already has football half the year; the kind that grips an entire nation every Sunday (and Monday night, and Thursdays, and, um, select Saturdays…but I digress). Is that not enough? And don’t look now, but much as America has long spread its great cultural traditions across the pond, from McDonald’s to Maroon 5 (apologies for both), the NFL is slowly making its mark in Europe. Indeed, there may be a day when Europeans actually care more about Bears/Packers than Portugal/Cameroon.
You know, like the rest of us.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, while you’re watching soccer, I’ll be watching another sport, led by a team that truly represents the best of American values: building from the ground up, with selfless stars, legendary die-hard fans, and a premium on never taking any shortcuts or the easy way out.
The Miami Heat.
T.J. Shanoff co-hosted morning drive on the Sporting News Radio Network for three years, so he clearly knows what he’s talking about. T.J. co-wrote Rod Blagojevich, Superstar, Rush Limbaugh The Musical, and, arguably, the most important show in Second City history, Jewsical.