Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Sports: Soccer = National League ???

Was watching PBS Newshour and one of the guests was defending soccer and proclaimed its growing popularity in the USA and the other was saying it remains a niche sport and will not get beyond that.

I have to say I agree with the latter analysis.

In the just concluded World Cup, I didn't watch a single game from beginning to end. I only watched portions of a handful of contests.

In many ways, my interest in the World Cup was more in the hoopla around the World Cup rather than the games themselves!

As I have mentioned before, the shootout is emotionally exciting but intellectually unsatisfying. Can one really say that Italy was better than France?

I realize sometimes a game in any sport can come down to the last possession where really either side deserves to win. However, in the World Cup, there were so many 1-0 games and several determined by shootout. The cumulative ambiguity of the results leaves me cold.

Am I alone in this?

Is this an "American" trait that likes clarity? Especially, a clear winner?

As George C. Scott says in Patton, "Americans love a winner!"

To add insult to injury, there was no question that Team USA soccer was not up to snuff as demonstrated by their winless performance - blitzed by the Czechs and finally booted by Ghana. But remember which team did Team USA play to a draw and almost beat?

Italy, the World Cup champs!

This morning, was listening to The Herd on ESPN Radio and he was on a rant about the AL versus NL divide. The AL has a decade of dominance in the All Star Game. They swept the last two MLB championships. The top four teams in payroll are AL teams. The AL is way ahead of the NL in inter-league play.

The only difference between the AL and NL is the designated hitter.

Yet, it is now clear the AL is doing much better. The Herd claimed that extra bit of offense is drawing more crowds and this has translated to players prefering to go to the AL. This small advantage has now snowballed into dominence.

The Herd went on to bash the NL partisans saying, oh, stop with this purity of the game stuff. Watching pitchers hit? Double switches? Fans like offense and offense sells tickets.

Hmmm ... sure sounds like the beef against soccer?

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