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Soccer finally gets the recognition it deserves

POSTED June 27, 2009 6:36 p.m.
There’s a thing sports fans like to do when it seems like everyone else is doing it. It’s a thing that annoys us, but all of us have done it at least once in our lives.
We jump on the bandwagon when a team’s winning.
And none of us like to admit that we do it. It’s a trait that is frowned upon because it shows how transparent we are: “Oh, you’re one of them?” We can’t help it. We don’t like to follow losers. We only care about winners. This habit became apparent earlier this week when the U.S. men’s soccer team poured cold water on people’s faces after shocking the No. 1 team on the planet — Spain — in the Confederations Cup. The Americans are in their first FIFA tournament finals.
This isn’t the World Cup. But for many Americans, it is.
Folks are really starting to care about American soccer now. These people seem to have forgotten that we have had a professional league called Major League Soccer for some time now and the U.S. team has pulled off other upsets on the international stage.
Facebook and Twitter became places where die-hard soccer fans, or perhaps just very proud Americans, unloaded their enthusiasm with capital letters and exclamation points. Bars got crowded because of soccer, of all things. People on TV reminded us how important this win was, even though their channel had nothing to do with sports.
But this is good. It’s good because soccer in the States deserves this kind of recognition. It’s already the most popular sport in the world, so why isn’t it the No. 1 sport in America? Maybe Americans don’t quite understand soccer yet, as opposed to golf, basketball, football, hockey, baseball and auto racing. But soccer isn’t difficult to understand. Maybe it’s because the sport doesn’t have enough scoring taking place, not knowing there’s more to the sport than putting that round thing into the back of a net with one’s foot.
David Beckham — one of the sport’s biggest names — is on the Los Angeles Galaxy roster, but he’s not that big of a buzz anymore. He’s just there, it seems. In other words, we may never get the world’s best players to compete in the MLS. There’s too much cash to be made in Europe.
Maybe we’re just asking for too much.
Then again...
These American soccer players are changing the way we view the sport. They can dismantle all the bad perceptions we have by winning Sunday’s championship contest against Brazil.
That’s worth watching.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail csun@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.
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