As much as I hate to admit it I don’t know a whole lot about soccer. That may change in the coming years. The debut of David Beckham with the Los Angeles Galaxy was a mega-event. Sold out crowds, Hollywood stars, and all the fanfare of a Carnival made me sit up and take notice of what may soon be a major sport in the United States.
Granted, we’ve got a long way to go before soccer tickets become as popular as NFL football tickets, or MLB baseball tickets, or NBA basketball tickets. But think about it: Can the rest of the entire world be wrong? The Super Bowl is huge but for sheer numbers the World Cup eclipses the NFL’s biggest event for a major part of the Earth’s population.
Look around in your neighborhood and you’ll probably notice a growing trend towards kids participating in soccer, something that was unheard of when I was coming up. Time will tell, but to me, it’s almost inevitable that we’ll soon have another choice when it comes to what sports tickets we pocket.
And a little change may do us some good. It’s time to cast off our arrogance in this country and start to see what makes the rest of the planet tick. The NFL has made a concerted effort to spread it’s game in Europe and in a few places it’s been well accepted. We’ve seen NFL games in Mexico, Japan, and now London will host a REGULAR season game in 2007. Not a meaningless pre-season game. Time to open our shores (and our minds) to a little bit of foreign wisdom.
On a personal note I’ll tell you about my glimmer of soccer knowledge. When I was a reporter for the local paper I was assigned a high school soccer game to cover. I knew zilch about the sport. Zip, nada, nothing. In order to effectively report the action, I planted myself on the home team bench and had the players explain what was going on as the action unfolded. Two things were made apparent to me in my ignorance. 1) This game is rougher than the average American believes. 2) In order to appreciate soccer you have to understand it. An outsider witnessing a top quality pitching duel, where both pitchers are striking out opposing batters, would be bored to death. Face it, there’s no action there. You have to understand the nuances of the game to enjoy a no-hitter. Given time, this giant of a European sport will take root and challenge our current major sports because our kids (who always spot the latest thing first) understand and enjoy the game in ever growing numbers. In the words of Bob Dylan:
Your old road is rapidly aging
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend a hand,
For the times they are a’changing.