Weekly Wire
Salt Lake City Weekly Too Late for Us?

JULY 13, 1998:  In the summer of 1994 we had the pleasure of being in Boston for a newspaper convention. As host to the World Cup, the city was swept up in Soccermania. We found out that the world really, really cares about soccer.

Comparing World Cup soccer fans to our own Super Bowl fanatics is like comparing a double espresso with, well, tea. Those people define fanaticism in the same manner that David Koresh defined patriotism. Except for the excitement of WCW Wrestling (or perhaps a cricket match between India and Pakistan), it was as close to Armageddon as we will ever come and we miss it.

Never mind that we don't quite understand the game. Offsides? How can you get offsides on a field that big? We get the kicking and tripping stuff. On the other hand, we don't understand the good manners displayed when the ref holds up a yellow or red card. Amazing. The way the players respond when given a penalty is just like a three-year-old being sent to time-out. How did they ever teach them to do that? Especially when compared to the bacchanalia taking place in the stands. Is it too late for America?

Probably so.

As any soccer dad can tell you, good sportsmanship dies the moment a child trades in his or her soccer shin guards for a baseball mitt. Soccer dads roam harmlessly bewildered along the sidelines as their kids romp between the goals. Only occasionally are their kids forced into action, such as when an errant kick rolls their way. Panic-stricken, the kids just boot the ball, much to the hurrah of all the dad-folk. Then, when the game is over and the zero-zero tie score is announced (no score keeping here, bucko) the kids all shake hands and drink punch.

Just like baseball, only different.

In baseball, the dads behave as total jerks. Kid takes a walk, dad says swing. Kid strikes out, dad goes postal. Kid misses fly ball, dad blames the ump. Kid observed picking his nose, dad blames the coach. Coach takes kid out of game, dad takes kid out of baseball. It's an American tradition: boorishness.

It gets worse. Football's Cox? Basketball's Barkley?

Pity the kids with a little talent. Their dads often suck the will out of them before they lick their first kiss. We think it is better to stick with soccer. Keep your kids there and maybe our American team will have something to cheer about in 2010. Just think of the riot, literally, that that will be.

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