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NOTABLE & QUOTABLE


P.J. O'Rourke P.J. O’Rourke, writing about the World Cup for the dailybeast.com, July 13

“Soccer is not likely to become a sport that American life revolves around like the Super Bowl, or March Madness when all business activity ceases while employees devote full time to filling in brackets only to lose the pool to the executive assistant who picks colleges according to which school colors she likes best. Or the World Series where you can take a snack break during the windup for every pitch.

For us Laz-Y-Boy League All-Stars in our 50’s and 60’s (a key sports fan demographic), soccer will always be a thing that was introduced at schools, YMCA’s, and rec centers when America was having its JFK physical fitness fit.

Soccer was intended to be safe, free from the worrisome “over-competitiveness” of Little League and Pop Warner, and playable by any kid no matter what a fat little jerk he was. That is, soccer was intended to be no fun, like a 50 mile hike.

Plus children didn’t know how to play it. And they still don’t. Every parent winces at the mention of soccer, recalling endless afternoons spent viewing Kid-Cluster-Kick, usually in shade-free places with nowhere to sit and mosquitoes. Twenty years after the phrase entered the American lexicon, “Soccer Mom” retains its power as hurtful speech.

The time between World Cups is too long. America is a “gratification nation” and we like ours immediate or, at least, annually. Soccer is similar to one of those Olympic sports that get us excited–400 meter hurdles, platform diving, pole vault, 200meter butterfly–then four years pass and we can’t remember which one we’re excited by.”

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Having spent some small time as a soccer, baseball, swimming and football grandma, I agree wholeheartedly with O’Rourke. Standing in the outfield with a T-ball player telling him to stop watching the birds inthe sky and watch the ball, or vigorously praising a small soccer player as he runs victoriously off the pitch, I know no more about the game than I did before they all played it, but I’m glad they did.

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10 comments on “NOTABLE & QUOTABLE

  1. I loved how the match schedules were defined by the countries’ flags and we realized just how important the colors are. My favorite though was the Google home page. I guess we have to wait 4 more years for that fun.

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  2. Thanks Joan. Here in America we aren’t aware of hos important soccer is to the rest of the world. We are too wrapped up in bodies crashing into each other in football.

    Yes the flag colors of the various countries kept us into the action.

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  3. I’m not even certain when soccer-for-kids got started. I’m of the dodgeball generation. You know, the ones who rode bikes barefoot, let alone without helmets.

    To be quite frank, I feel sorry for the few kids I know today. They’re so overscheduled, teamed-up and supervised, they wouldn’t know how to look at a cloud in the sky if you asked them to. The older I get, the more I wish I had a lawn, so I could invite the kids to come lay in it, instead of telling them to get off it.

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  4. Your are of the same generation as my girls. I never saw it until the grandkids played it.

    I agree that these kids today are programed to do it all. They have never learned to entertain themselves, and if they are caught just lollygagging around, they are enrolled in another class. All to the tune of mega bucks.

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  5. I do like sport with balls that are at least round and go where you intend them to go. Here in Australia the biggest sport still is different forms of a game with an oblong ball that seems to go anywhere. The players do a lot of rolling around in the grass and it is even known for the players to put the ball (brazenly)under their arm and run away with it. Can you believe it?
    My grandkids play outdoor chess and soccer.

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  6. I just finished P.J. O’Rourke’s take on Adam Smith’s the Wealth of Nations. Clever, smart, and well-written.

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  7. I hadn’t heard of that book, but I imagine O’Rourke’s review was a good one. I enjoy his writing and his wit very much. AK

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