June 6, 2014

Fightin' Words: There's no reason to not watch America this summer

Adam Troxtell, Sports Editor,
The Express-Star


There's a very alarming trend I'd like to address.

This week, our online poll asks whether or not our readers, you fine individuals, will watch any of the upcoming FIFA World Cup. You know, the global soccer tournament that just so happens to be the biggest and most celebrated sporting event in the world (go search the global TV viewing figures.) 

Problem is, the vast majority of voters so far said they will not, and this confuses me. I'd imagine that good people in this area would, at least, enjoy watching it's own America take part in such a momentous occasion.

That's right; you, America, have a soccer team in this tournament. They'll compete just like the other 32 nations in Brazil starting six days from now. Maybe that's not enough to change your mind, so consider this.

The United States took part in the first ever World Cup in 1930. It took place in Uruguay and the Americans placed third behind Bert Patenaude, the first player to record a hat trick (three goals in one game) at the World Cup finals.

The last time the tournament was held in Brazil, 1950, America pulled off the shock of the sport. A Hatian immigrant by the name of Joe Gaetjens headed in the only goal in the U.S.'s surprise win against tournament favorites and Revolutionary War rivals, England. 

What's more, this is no longer a team made up of immigrants. On the team of 23 players representing us at the World Cup this year are players born in California, Texas, Illinois, Florida, Washington, Indiana, New Jersey, Alabama, Kansas, and the sons of American servicemen stationed overseas. How much more American can you get?

I know how it's been. In the days when the nation's soccer future was in its cradle, in the 1970s when the great Pele came to play in New York, the cynics were loud and proud. They said hating soccer was "as American as apple pie." Others sparked a campaign of fear, stating "soccer is globalization in short pants."

Clearly, none of this is true. Their end argument is that we have no chance of winning, so why bother? By that analysis, America should never have tried to form a country out of 13 colonies, take on the German war machine twice, take the Soviets head on in the Cold War, nor embark on an industrial revolution that would make it the economic pinnacle of the world for the next century. Our history is full of brave Americans who stared likelihood and probability in the face and simply said "This day is not yours; it is ours!"

I desperately encourage you on June 16 (5 p.m.), June 22 (6 p.m.), and June 26 (11 a.m.) to watch your team play. You don't have to watch all of the tournament, and you don't have to make a huge deal of it. But if you're near a TV, just put it on ESPN or ESPN2. I promise, it'll be worth it, even if only to watch these guys put on their shirt and represent you with everything they have.