June 29, 2014


The misery of an England fan in the US (Dominic Green, 6/28/14, BBC Magazine)

It's a rare occasion when the US football team advance further than England at the World Cup, so the pain is keenly felt by a British transplant in New York, Dom Green.

After four years of living in New York, I'd like to think I've assimilated into the local culture.

I ask cab drivers to pop the trunk. I visit the dentist every three months. I even high-fived a colleague in the office last week, without irony.

But as this year's World Cup approached, I had an overwhelming desire to watch our opening game against Italy with other English people. [...]

Meanwhile, the rest of the city was engaging with the World Cup like never before.

There is always interest, of course, thanks to the bubble of passionate (mainly Hispanic) soccer fans in and around New York. Flushing Meadows turns into Hackney Marshes every weekend.

Even our lovely, 50-something Guatemalan housekeeper does Panini swapsies with my five-year-old son. And the game of footie I organise every Friday night on the Lower East Side is made up of a brilliantly diverse group of British, Aussie, American, Dutch, Moroccan, German and Japanese players.

And yet, and yet... There's something happening outside that bubble, too. Last Sunday, Madison Square Park was heaving with flag-waving USA fans for the Portugal game.

Bars have been advertising the games "with sound", as if suddenly realising what they've been missing all these years. And people at work have started talking to me about football.

American people.

How infuriating that football - our football - has finally become a talking point at precisely the moment the USA has progressed further than England on the world's biggest stage.

I've tried for years to get the eldest to pay attention to sports with no luck.  The other day it was slow at the pool so the lifeguards all watched USA-Germany and he came home ranting about the game.  The sport is so simple and lacking in nuance that anyone can turn it on and watch.  And, even better, it's over two hours after it started.  We're becoming a soccer nation...by accident.

Will soccer's gain be baseball's loss? (Frank Fitzpatrick, 6/29/14, Philadelphia Inquirer)

I'm not suggesting mortal peril. But the print era's favorite game clearly seems to be having trouble maintaining its balance, not to mention its fan base, in a digital world.

Baseball just doesn't modernize easily or well.

Replay hasn't made me feel any more confident about its future. Nor has the sensory overload of a ballpark experience. And only savants appear interested in the flood of new statistics the computer age has made possible.

Last week, a friend of mine attended the Phillies' desultory, 4-0 loss to the Florida Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.

His Diamond Club tickets cost $140 each. The crowd was as lifeless as the home team's offense. There were just four total runs and 13 hits, and yet the game took 3 hours and 14 minutes to complete.

He departed long before it ended.

"I see now," my friend said a day later, "why people think soccer is ready to take off in America."

Posted by at June 29, 2014 7:21 PM

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