When the United States soccer team squared off against England in the World Cup on Saturday, I was all stoked for the Yanks to upset the Brits.
Instead, I had to settle for a 1-1 tie. Scores from other World Cup games were equally underwhelming.
South Africa, the host country, started off the event when its team played Mexico. Final score: South Africa, 1, Mexico 1. New Zealand and Slovakia played to a 1-1 tie, and the Ivory Coast and Portugal played a scintillating 0-0 donnybrook.
Paraguay took on Italy, which is my favorite team due to my status as an honorary Italian-American. (I have an official Sons of Italy watch to back up my claim. I may be the only black guy in the country with such a watch. How I came to get it is a long story, fodder for another column.)
Alas, my adopted “peeps” fared no better than the Americans. Italy and Paraguay also tied 1-1.
Watching the first week of the World Cup, it’s easy to reach several conclusions about the game of soccer.
A score of 1-1 or 1-0 might be considered a barnburner.
A score of 2-0 could be considered a rout.
A score of 3-0 would be a blowout.
When Americans look at the plethora of 1-1 games in the World Cup, they must wonder why the rest of the globe constantly chastises us for not being as rabid about the event as other nations are. And yes, those low-scoring games would be the reason.
Mind you, I say this as a die-hard World Cup fan. I love this stuff. I don’t know exactly when it was that I got hooked, but I was ecstatic when my adopted “peeps” won it in 2006.
There are a number of reasons I love the World Cup. It’s a welcome break from football and basketball, and the racial proportions are more reasonable. Yes, I’m once again going on my rant about how there are far too many black players in professional football and professional basketball in America. So many that if I see one more black pro football or basketball player I am absolutely, positively going to scream.
Soccer games may be low-scoring affairs, but I’ve come to appreciate that. The games should be low scoring. It’s extremely hard for one team to put that ball in the goal when there are a bunch of guys on the other team trying to prevent it from happening. But when those fast breaks with those nifty passes occur and a score does happen, it’s worth the wait.
That being said, I’m probably in the minority of Americans when it comes to appreciating soccer and the World Cup. We’ve got our football, where the scoring comes much more often. We’ve got our baseball, which has its share of games tied 1-1 at the end of nine innings, but scores of 9-8 or 10-0 or 8-5 are common.
We’ve got our basketball, where the scoring comes in bunches. And then there’s lacrosse, which is really your huckleberry if you like high-scoring athletic contests.
Basketball has gained much more international popularity than it once had, but is still second to soccer as the world’s game.
Baseball is somewhat of an international game. (In Cuba, it’s THE national game. I’ve been to Cuba three times, and I learned that Cubans have three great loves: talking, baseball and talking about baseball.)
Football and lacrosse? Not so much, where the rest of the world is concerned. But I don’t see soccer replacing football in the hearts of the majority of Americans anytime soon.
Examiner columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to Sudan.
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