I’ll never forget the day our high school PE student teacher told us we were going to spend the next week playing football. We questioned if it would be touch or flag. He replied, “No, no , you don’t understand, we’re going to play futbol — you know, soccer.”
The coach in question was a Kenyan attending Eastern New Mexico University and student teaching a bunch of country bumpkins that had never picked up a soccer ball. I’m pretty sure there wasn’t even a soccer goal for 120 miles. To us a pitch was either a fastball or curve.
This young man set up tires or something to approximate goals and persisted for a week in educating us in international sports technique and protocol.
Needless to say it didn’t stick and the game of soccer left the High Plains with that dedicated chap from Kenya.
Some 40 years later we finally have some pretty active soccer leagues and even high school teams. Then the last few weeks I woke up and noticed there were actually people I knew who were pretty fired up about World Cup Soccer.
Despite my full week of schooling in the game in high school and a couple decades of covering high school soccer in Colorado, I still don’t understand the strategy or even the rules fully. I’m a little like Howard Cosell — “I Never Played the Game.”
If I had a good photo, an accurate record of the scores, who made them and when, along with a few coaches’ quotes (which I never understood) I had a soccer story.
I’ve watched this game coming on for years. Little kids that get introduced to it love it. Lord knows all that running and non-stop action is healthy for them. It’s taken a generation or two of soccer players growing up to be soccer moms or finding themselves married to soccer moms to finally begin to engrain the sport on our sports crazy American society. But I think we’re finally there.
People got down right goofy and bailed out on work to hang out and watch U.S. matches in pubs and sports bars. A narrow victory over Ghana was seen as the first step toward a world championship. An almost victory that actually ended in a tie with Portugal was the most I’ve ever heard a soccer game talked about by Americans. Then a loss to Germany was quickly swept aside as we somehow advanced to what’s called the knockout round of 16.
After the Portugal match I decided I should maybe watch the next one so I set the DVR to record it for me.
The day of that match I passed a young soccer mom in an office down the hall with her smart phone tuned into the game. It really is catching on here.
That night I tried to watch it but I already knew the U.S. was going to lose and I just couldn’t get into it.
If this tournament is so important why are they playing it in a rain forest?
Karl Terry writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at: