The United States Soccer Team drew one of the world's favorites for its opening-round game in the World Cup Tournament. Team USA held its own against England, and came away with a 1-1 tie, a huge victory for the underdog Americans, and a pretty big blow to the Brits.
Hopefully U.S. sports fans can appreciate the milestone, and get on the American bandwagon for arguably the biggest tournament in all of sports in the entire world.
What the rest of the globe calls "football" is the sport that brings grown men to tears in other countries, and even sparks riots in some places. The passion that the rest of the world has for soccer is unfathomable to Joe American sports fan.
Here in the U.S., our football is a sport with incredible drama, great heroes and villains, power, speed and agility. It's so physical, the players wear helmets and pads. Then there are the natural breaks in the action: TV-time-outs, perfect for a trip to the kitchen for a snack. Football is videotaped with in-your-face access.
Soccer, however, generally requires wide-angle lenses and no clock-stopping during two long halves of action. If you go to the refrigerator, you may miss the only goal of the game. But there are heroes and villains, power, speed, agility and teamwork. You just have to invest the time to get into it, enjoy the back stories, learn the lingo and enter the international drama that is World Cup soccer.
It's difficult to capture the emotion and excitement of soccer with a live video camera. Like auto racing and hockey, the thrill of great soccer is sometimes lost in television translation. Just like it's tough to always see the puck during an NHL game, soccer suffers through a screen. The field is so big, the ball and players are often dwarfed on camera. It's hard to appreciate the speed, strength and agility of world class soccer players.
That's why we Yanks have to really commit ourselves to giving soccer a fair shake during this World Cup tournament.
The best thing that could happen to soccer in the U.S. is for the American team to make a run for the championship, and they are off to a good start. Remember the excitement when the U.S. women won the World Cup in 1999? That team ended up on the cover of many US magazines, including "Time", and arguably did more for women's athletics in this country than any other team win in history.
The U.S. team feels like they are a contender this year, so over the next few weeks, let's give soccer a shot, and join the rest of the globe in getting caught up in World Cup excitement.
Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at Kellie@BedfordCountyChamber.org. Her column appears Tuesdays.