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World Cup Fever . . . Inoculate Against It!

World Cup fever has gotten so out of hand that I simply can't stand it any more.  

Brian is using "Rocky" metaphors.  The Hobnailed Boot actually wrestled over whether it was more important to follow Georgia's College World Series game against Rice or to follow Team U.S.A.'s World Cup match against Italy.  Orson is trying to justify the World Cup on the basis of the good-looking women it brings to the stadium.  

Yost is rendering yeoman's service, but he can't do it all by himself.  Up until now, I have contented myself with mild jabs at soccer, but this is really starting to unnerve me, so I hope you will permit me the small Father's Day indulgence of letting me rant a little.  

I don't hate soccer.  I don't think soccer is boring.  I don't think soccer is bad.  I don't think ill of people who follow soccer, although the reactions to it in the rest of the world seem more than a bit extreme.  

I just don't care about soccer.

While I respect those of you who agree with Casey McCall, I share the views on soccer expressed by Dan Rydell.

It's fine with me if other people in other places care about it, but that creates no obligation on my part to be concerned with it in the slightest.  I am as sick and tired of hearing how soccer is "The Most Popular Sport in the World" as I was of hearing how Southern California was "The Greatest Team in the History of College Football."  

Soccer is the most popular sport in the world because passion for the sport exists in the most overpopulated places on the planet.  By definition, anything that is beloved in places with a bunch of people will be more popular than anything that is beloved in places with fewer people.  This is why ping-pong is enormously popular worldwide . . . not because people all over the planet care about it, but because they play it in China, which is the most populous nation on earth.  

By this same method of reckoning, the most popular supper entrée in the world is going to bed hungry, because the most populous portions of the planet suffer from malnutrition, starvation, and a lack of available resources with which to feed their people.  Those who buy the World Cup aficionados' flawed logic that, because they care about soccer in the rest of the world, we should care about it here, too, might just as well argue that, because people don't have enough food in the Third World, we should stop eating in the United States, too.  

For just ten cents a day, Sally Struthers can help bring E.S.P.N. GamePlan to children in underdeveloped nations that have only soccer to sustain them.

I take a different view.  I believe that, if your neighbor is starving, you should try to help him out rather than opt voluntarily to suffer alongside him.  We in the United States live in a land of plenty, both in those aspects of life which are essential (food, clothing, shelter) and in those which are ephemeral (music, motion pictures, television, sports).  This provides Americans with an array of choices, both in matters of need and in matters of mere want, which simply is unavailable in most of the rest of the world.  

If you are an American who chooses to follow and care about soccer, fine; that is your business.  However, I have no patriotic obligation to be the least bit concerned with how Team U.S.A. fares in the World Cup and I find comparisons to countries that close businesses and shut down government functions for soccer matches to be utterly ludicrous.  

The diversity of opportunity offered in this country prevents the sort of national unity that is essential for a nation-state to halt all productive activity so that every citizen can watch a soccer match.  The singleminded devotion of some countries to their World Cup squads is akin to the high voter turnout witnessed in single-party elections in the Soviet Union . . . what other choice was available?  Having a political system that includes both Democrats and Republicans is messier and more divisive, but those are small prices to pay for freedom.  

His five-year plans incorporated time off for the proletariat to follow World Cup soccer.

Here in the United States, we see small pockets of such sports-driven mania, as when large numbers of Chicagoans play hooky from work to attend day games at Wrigley Field, but the availability of other alternatives makes it impossible for Americans to root for the same team, to the exclusion of all other pursuits, from sea to shining sea.  

We become united over events of consequence---the aerial assault on Pearl Harbor, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center---not over an athletic competition against the Czech Republic.  Even 1980's American victory in Olympic hockey isn't truly comparable, for that was an extension of politics in an era of what the leader of the free world had taken to calling "malaise" . . . which is why the term "miracle on ice" refers to the United States' upset of the Soviets, despite the fact that the Americans won the gold medal by beating Finland in the next game.  

It is true that, even here in Georgia, we don't close down business establishments and government offices for Bulldog football games, although, after years of pressure from the student body, the University of Georgia began scheduling an annual fall break during the week preceding the game against the Gators in Jacksonville.  

It is also true that college football games take place on Saturdays, on weeknights, during the Christmas holidays, and on New Year's Day . . . when business establishments and government offices generally would be closed, anyway.  Soccer doesn't deserve extra credit for the fact that its schedulemakers are indifferent to the real-life obligations of the sport's fans; rather, college football earns points for treating its adherents more respectfully.  

Go ahead . . . fire this bad boy up and go looking for a weblog called "Every Day Should Be a Day That I Have to Choose Between Going to Work to Make Money to Feed My Family or Staying Home to Watch My Team in a World Cup Match Scheduled in the Middle of Both the Day and the Week."  The acronym alone makes it impractical.

The beauty of SportsBlogs Nation is that it provides something for everyone, whether you follow major league baseball, minor league baseball, the N.F.L., the N.B.A., fantasy leagues, cycling, or soccer.  SportsBlogs Nation's growing stable of college sports webloggers includes boosters of Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon State, Texas, U.C.L.A., Utah, and Washington, in addition to Dawg Sports.  

If soccer's your thing, great; good for you . . . by all means, follow the World Cup to your heart's content and share your passion with other fans who have not quite caught the bug.  Just don't try selling me on all that business about how it's so popular worldwide and how other countries shut down during soccer matches and how my patriotism ought to be inflamed by the spectacle and how it's sad that Americans aren't universally obsessive in their slavish devotion to Team U.S.A.  

I think everyone ought to be a Georgia fan, but I understand that some people aren't.  I think everyone ought to follow college football, but I understand that some people don't.  If you don't bleed red and black, that's your business, but I am neither a bad citizen of the world nor a poor patriotic American just because I don't care a whit about soccer.  

We now return you to your regularly scheduled intercollegiate athletics weblog, which is already in progress.  

Happy Father's Day!

Go 'Dawgs!