World Cup dust has finally settled


It appears that the dust from the World Cup finally has settled. The people of Argentina are starting to go back to work after celebrating for a week; the people of Qatar have returned to pumping oil and building impossibly giant buildings; and here in the United States – well, nothing really ever was much different here.

In other parts of the world, soccer (or football, as everyone else on Earth calls it) is almost a religion. The main difference is religious people sometimes skip church, but soccer fans never miss a game.

When the Argentina team returned home from winning the World Cup, four million people turned out for the big parade. There were so many people the buses carrying the team couldn’t get through, so they had to bring in helicopters to bail them out.

Every so often, large numbers of people die in soccer riots in various countries around the world. There was even a soccer war between El Salvador and Honduras in 1969. These people are serious about their games.

Meanwhile, here in the United States of America, soccer is just not a big deal. Back when I was in high school, soccer was going to be The Next Big Thing. Fifty years later, it is kind of The Next Medium Thing. I guess Pickleball is now The Next Big Thing.

Why hasn’t it happened?

First of all, Americans like immediate gratification. Americans like sports like football, where people are smashing into each other all the time, and basketball, where everyone scores a lot of points. Even the old national pastime baseball is changing rules to make it easier to score runs. In soccer, a 2-1 game is a wild time.

I do have to admit what I saw of the World Cup was pretty exciting … but then again, I only watched a few of the 4-minute highlights of some of the games. Usually, they could show all the goals multiple times, show anything that came within 10 feet of being a goal and still have some time left over to show various soccer players taking off their shirts, which seems to be a thing.

Then there’s the lure of fame and fortune.

It seems like every little kid in this town plays soccer at one time or another. There are soccer fields all over the place. But by the time they get to, say, high school very few of them are still playing. Most of the very best athletes look at what football or basketball or baseball players make, they see how much attention those sports get, and so they forget about soccer and go for the big time. This country’s greatest male athletes play other games.

It’s different with women and soccer. The U.S. has been a dominating force there, but then again there are no big exposure football or baseball teams to draw the best female athletes away. Some of the country’s best women athletes are playing soccer. You can see the results.

Then there’s the American tendency to think that if we’re not good at something, it must not be important. We’re a little bit arrogant that way. Lose a soccer game to a little bitty country like the Netherlands? Well, what else do they have to do there, skate and grow tulips? No big deal. Send the Dutch basketball team over here and we’ll see who’s boss.

Besides, it’s only a game … well, unless you live in Argentina or Brazil.

Soccer afficionados in this country always are bemoaning how Americans just don’t get it and they might have a point. But that’s OK. We don’t have to be the best at everything. The same thing happens in other countries. In Canada, they play hockey. In Scandinavia, they ski. In India, they play cricket. In New Zealand, they play rugby. It’s all good.

I personally am happy for Argentina. They’ve been having a rough time down there so it’s good to see they have something to celebrate. Viva Messi! Viva La Albiceleste! Congratulations, you deserved to win. The good people of Argentina might be finished celebrating about the time the next World Cup is held in four years.

Here’s some advance notice: the 2026 World Cup will be hosted by the U.S., Mexico and Canada. That means in four years we will be buried in soccer news.

Don’t worry, we also will have lots of time to get ready – there will be four Super Bowls, four World Series, four NBA Finals and four Stanley Cups before the real football players come to town.

David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected].

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