There is an awesome article in the WSJ about long-term goals for soccer in the U.S.
“The hardest thing for people to accept and understand
– longtime fans, soccer haters, the awakening media, the gleefully dismissive European football world – is that soccer in the U.S. has to be viewed through a lens more suitable for the Hubble telescope than for our nearsighted sports culture.“
When I left the house yesterday morning, I felt incredible. I was walking on air. Never before have I commuted with such a grin on my face. I was going to meet my brother in a downtown Manhattan pub. I was going to put life and work on hold for a few hours and just exist. I was elated. I even ordered deep fried mozzarella sticks before noon.
And then we lost. We lost on a bad call, too. I told myself that it wasn’t that big a deal. I thought, “There’s always next time. In four more years, we’ll get ‘em.” And then, after I hit the street, I began to deflate.
Over the course of the day, I began to feel even worse. I wonder how it is sports fans do this all the time. If your team wins, that’s one thing. But when they lose it just hurts. You feel empty. You feel kind of sick. You feel like someone broke up with you. It really, really hurts! I know! That sounds silly coming from me, but it hurts. Suddenly, I understood why people at Penn State were so mean after a game. I began to understand why, as a waitress, I dealt with some of the grumpiest people. Their team had just lost. They were deflated.
Of course, I immediately began to hear the comments. I read them on line, off line, in papers, I had them emailed to me, said to me, and I overheard them said to someone else. It hurt. Hearing people say really negative things about the U.S. soccer team really stung. Granted, there were some wonderful things being said as well, but unfortunately, wearing the face of a loser, the negativity spoke much louder.
But hearing negative comments and being teased wasn’t the worst part. The part that really hurt was that this negativity wasn’t coming from people from other countries or opposing fans. It was coming from my fellow Americans. The situation was like having someone call my son or daughter stupid, say that my brother will never amount to anything, or claim that my mother and father could have done better.
Ouch, people. Ouch. The USA lost. I’m aware of that. It sucks. But why does that mean we shouldn’t even play the game? Why do some people think we don’t even have a place at the World Cup? What’s wrong with having a go at another fantastic sport? And the people who really upset me were the ones who brought up the war and the Bush Administration. The U.S is evil, they should lose! Blah blah blah. What in God’s name does Bush and the war have to do with our place at the World Cup? To those people I have one question: What’s wrong with you?
But I digress. I played soccer as a kid and somewhere along the line I stopped. I stopped going to games. I stopped talking about it. I don’t even own a soccer ball anymore.
“If Argentina can win Olympic gold in men’s basketball, the U.S. can certainly become a global force in men’s soccer.”
In a perfect sporting world, we’d allow ourselves to become a soccer nation. It’s the only sport where the rules are the same for both a male and a female. The balls aren’t different sizes nor are the fields. It’s the only sport where girls grow up playing the exact same game as their brothers. I want my daughter to enjoy it on TV like my son does a baseball or American football game. I want to consistently be able to sit in a bar and watch the USA play a soccer match. And I really don’t want to have to subscribe to some unknown sports channel in order to do so. I want ABC to carry the games all the time. I don’t want the USA game to be tucked away on ESPN2 where virtually no one can watch it. I want it on primetime. I want the sport to grow.
Let’s give America’s children in soccer leagues all over the U.S. another profession to aim for.
And, friends, what do you say we drop all the hate and insecurity.