Every now and then, for reasons that neither me nor my psychiatrist have ever figured out, I get the urge to write about soccer.

This is strange on multiple levels since I don't know much about the sport and, frankly, never cared enough about it to catch up.

But I woke up one morning some years ago and learned that a whole generation of misguided youth had grown up and suddenly had at least a passing interest in the foolishness.

And I knew that every time I wrote about it, it tended to annoy said youth, which makes my life richer, even amidst the accusatory shouts of "old fogey!"

So for today's dip into the archives, we'll pick one at random, this one from 2014 when Team USA was fresh off of a miraculous 1-2-1 showing in the World Cup.


So, now that Team USA is out of the World Cup (soccer), does that mean we can all get on with our lives?

OK, apparently not.

That would suggest that the packed sports bars for the USA's sadly-too-brief stay in worlds greatest sporting event was just a passing outburst of patriotic fervor and not evidence of the long-awaited soccer revolution on our shores.

Fair enough.

But if we're forced to keep paying attention with no stars and stripes to root for, I have a few questions for the soccer experts.

Are there entirely different standards for soccer?

Really.

Not trying to be mean or crass here, but I'm honestly trying to figure out where the USA's dancing in the streets comes from.

I'm trying to grasp this whole concept.

Is this like summer camp, where everybody is a winner?

I believe it was Gen. George Patton — or maybe just George C. Scott playing Patton — who famously said, "Americans love a winner."

He wasn't finished. He went on to say, furthermore and forever more, that Americans "will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time."

Except at the World Cup.

At the World Cup, apparently, you can be Miss Congeniality and still come home a winner and a hero.

Even for "shoveling ... in Louisiana."

Oh, but they played so hard they were an inspiration to us all, young and old alike.

OK. Granted.

And your point is?

This is not Little League, where everybody gets two innings, a snowcone and a postgame hug from mom and dad.

These are highly paid professionals.

They are highly paid to ... win.

The New Orleans Saints generally play hard. But that's of little solace to their fans if they don't win. Somebody has to answer for it, particularly on talk radio, whether they played hard or not.

It's certainly nothing to brag about.

Play hard, but lose even the Super Bowl and see how fast you become the butt of the best of America's jokes.

Not in the World Cup. Go 1-2-1 and you come home as America's Inspiration.

The losing goalie is now being credited for "saving soccer in America."

I just don't get it.

They went 1-2-1.

They were there — what, a month? — and won one (1) game.

And we're going to throw a parade for them?

"Our" team goes 1-2-1 and suddenly we're all puffing out our stars and bursting our stripes.

Maybe it works in soccer.

But try that out on an SEC football-oriented message board some day and see how much love you get.

LSU baseball, for instance, went 2-2 in the NCAA tournament — and the season was immediately declared an unmitigated disaster.

America's expectations have gone way down if Team USA gets invited to the White House for going 1-2-1.

Is this soccer thing the most dangerous game on earth?

You just thought football was vicious, what with all the concussions and whatnot.

But I cover football, mostly college football. Over the course of 13 games, you might see the stretcher come out once, maybe twice a season.

In soccer the medics are always on red-alert. It must be barbaric. The stretchers make an appearance two or three times a half — or is it a chucker? — whatever they call their time periods.

 Speaking of time. In this wireless age of instant communication, there must be somebody in the stadium who knows how much ACTUAL time is ACTUALLY left in the game. Couldn't they relay it to the viewing public by something other than carrier pigeon? Can you imagine if NFL scoreboard clocks were just rough estimates? Explain this, please.

Speaking of fields, what are those pitches (fields) made of? Asphalt?

Your average football play will see about a quarter of each side hit the turf at some point, often with malice and great force, usually without incident.

In soccer it's much rarer, but when somebody does go down, even if they just trip over their shoelaces, they never seem to bounce up. Even after the most benign fall, they lay there, writhing in pain, often until the stretcher gets there.

Refresh my memory. Was it the Monroe Doctrine or Manifest Destiny that showed that America was ready to flex its new-found muscle and, among other things, forced Europe to change the name of its silly game from football to futbol?

 But this is my biggest question. When, exactly, did it become politically incorrect to dislike soccer? Or even to just ignore it?

I know the p.c. police are lurking behind every nook and cranny these days.

I know they can strike at any moment, even when you least expect it.

But, come on. Soccer has been pestering us for years while threatening to take over America.

But it used to be OK to openly ignore soccer in public.

Only now, it seems, if you don't jump on the bandwagon, they wag a finger at you and accuse you of being an insensitive Neanderthal.

Get in lockstep with the program or be militantly chastised.

When did this happen?

Aren't the p.c. guardians supposed to send out memos on this stuff when they make a ruling.

Other sports don't get this protection. It's OK to say football is too violent for youngsters, it's fine to say that baseball is too slow. It's acceptable to claim golfers aren't really athletes or that tennis is elitist or even that NASCAR is too redneck.

But dare suggest that soccer puts you to sleep like a lullaby and they come swooping down to accuse you of nationalistic jingoism, probably too stubborn to appreciate the beauty and artistry of a well-timed flop.

All sports have their fans and those who ignore them. Only soccer is ignored at the risk of being insensitive to the world view of things.

Sorry. I've tried for a month. I still don't get it.


Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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