Commentary | Confessions of an American soccer didn't convert

adell@bradenton.comJuly 5, 2014 

Now that I have attained the ability to become invisible when my life is in danger, I can make a public confession: I have not watched the World Cup, including the USA's match against Belgium.

Before you label me a Benedict Arnold and guilty of sins of the highest order, please consider that I tried.

On the day the USA played Belgium, I was en route to a local establishment to watch the game when my tabloid took control of my car.

It sent me back home to spend the next few hours looking into where LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony might play next season and whether the Miami Heat's run to the NBA Finals was at an end.

As I undertook this endeavor, images of the Salem witch hunt raced through my head. A picture of Jack Nicholson's sinister look took up residence inside my head in what I believe was a covert act by the soccer chieftains.

I feared the worst: being kidnapped by rabid soccer moms.

I chained myself to the kitchen sink. If those moms were going to stuff me into my vehicle and take me on my last ride, I was hoping the red, white

and blue soccer balls I stuck in my trunk might distract them and I could escape.

Some people are screaming the USA is now a soccer hotbed and those who disagree are running for cover. They believe it was patriotism that fueled the excitement of the USA's last match more than the sport.

It has happened numerous times, particularly in the Olympics.

We became a nation of swim lovers when Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps were winning medals.

We still talk about hockey's Miracle on Ice. Mary Lou Retton, from West Virginia, was the first gymnast outside Eastern Europe to win the Olympic all-around medal and was named Sportswoman of the Year in 1984

She popularized the sport but it didn't change the landscape of the country. The USA women's soccer team is another story. It is a superpower in the sport today for legitimate reasons.

American football is king, and the NBA gets a good run so the inclination by some is to predict men's soccer will eventually overtake baseball.

Now baseball has its problems. Similar to the United States Post Office, it operates at a snail's pace. But for a sport to grow, it must be fun to play during those impressionable pre-teen years and that gives baseball an edge.

A kid plays on a basketball or soccer team and could never take a shot or even touch the ball, and who wants his or her 9-year-old being put on the offensive line. In baseball, everybody gets a chance to bat and even if banished to right field, there is a chance a ball will be hit your way.

You can love your country and hope for the best in USA soccer. But why do we have to be vilified if we are just not that interested?

Groups have sprung up to help us. I attended a soccer apathy anonymous meeting recently and it was a help. We didn't give our real names in fear of retribution so I called myself LeMelo Wade and told my story.

We all left feeling optimistic that we would live to celebrate our next birthday.

NFL camps open in about three weeks, and this soccer hysteria will fade quickly. College football will follow and the world as we know it will be a little bit safer.

In the end, we do say congrats to the USA soccer team for its admirable performance. We just don't think it's going to change the sports landscape of America.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter @ADellSports.

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