Hello? Anyone Watching?
Hello? Anyone Watching?
I'm sure the Nomad and other Milwaukee soccer hot spots will still be packed as the World Cup plays on minus the United States, but I'm guessing American interest in who ultimately wins went through the floor with Saturday's US loss to Ghana.
Baseball, football and basketball are the big passions here in North America. Our interests in other sports--soccer and hockey--don't run as strong, getting boosted among marginal fans if and only if the US has skin in the game. It's why we watch the World Series, Super Bowl, NBA playoffs and the BCS Championship in huge numbers, even if our own team is no longer in action.
The World Cup may be the globe's biggest sports spectacle but here in the states, it's a big deal if and only if the US is still on the pitch. I can't imagine the country shutting down when the hardware gets handed over later this month. Not gonna happen.
Soccer affections should be happy that this year's Cup got ESPN coverage, created better-than-middling interest in the sport among the uninitiated, and might've actually created a few new fans. Those who thought that this is the year that soccer would finally make it over the top, well, think again. Even if the US made it to the title game or, perchance, won the Cup, soccer would still go back into it's hole as a third-tier sport. That's not harshin'. It's the reality of the game in the US.
Our kids play it when they're young--hell, my kids' school even let me coach, and I didn't know a ball from a net--and some keep playing into high school and college. Parents cover the country watching their kids' play club soccer, abandoning their lives for several years and sleeping in a new Holiday Inn every weekend, their social circles limited only to the other moms and dads they share the sidelines with. Do all of THOSE people maintain their passion for the game once their kids age-off or move on? If so, soccer would be a top-tier sport and we'd see Premiership standings on the front page of the sports section.
It would've been nice to see the US advance in the World Cup. It's cool to see how we bond as one, cheering on our countrymen as they did battle on a South African pitch. We might have even come to understand the offside rule. We certainly would've come to appreciate the officials of our more popular sports after seeing just how awful World Cup referees are.
It wasn't meant to be. The Americans are out. Soccer, I'm pretty sure, will fade from view despite ESPN's efforts to the contrary. They're stuck with the tournament, and you can bet their suits were crying in their beer Saturday night when Ghana put the hurt on us.
As for that communal feeling that comes with cheering on countrymen, we'll have to wait until the Olympics, when we again will care about sports we otherwise avoid, our passion fueled only by the fact that "USA" is across someone's chest.