I don’t know if my interest, or lack thereof, in the World Cup Soccer Championships makes me All American, un-American or a little of both.
At the risk of offending soccer fans, I just don’t get the excitement. Try as I may in my 20 years as a sports writer, I just don’t get soccer, period.
Don’t get me wrong, I admire and respect the men and women who spend their youth finetuning their skills on a soccer field.
In my high school days, when I ran the 2-mile, I might have possessed the endurance to play soccer, but my skill sets would have been completely lacking to make even a high school team. Of course, when I was in high school in the 1970s, soccer had yet to take hold in Northwest Florida.
My lack of enthusiasm for soccer can be directly traced to my lack of exposure to the game growing up.
The closest thing to soccer we ever played in physical education class was a game called speed ball. It was a cross between soccer and dodge ball, with a little more emphasis on putting a ball in a goal. Teams were divided into equal numbers and seven to 11 of the rubbery kick balls were placed in the middle of the field. The first team to score more than half the balls would win.
I would be unfair to blame speed ball for souring me on soccer, Although the action in speed ball made it much more exciting than soccer.
The fact is I didn’t grow up with soccer and I never learned to appreciate the game's finer points. Some people feel toward baseball the way I feel about soccer; they find the game painfully slow, lacking in scoring, and overall boring.
The person who isn’t a baseball fan would have been miserable watching the 18-inning game between Crestview and Navarre this year. They could easily point to the 1-0 outcome and question if anything happened.
As a baseball purist, I found the game exciting. I loved the pitching and defense both the Bulldogs and Raiders displayed as the teams poured their hearts into the game, but I’m not offended if someone finds that game, or any other baseball game, boring.
My job would be a little easier if I understood soccer a little better and enjoyed it a little more. I’ve honestly tried to learn and appreciate the sport, but it’s not to be.
I will be pulling for Team USA throughout the World Cup.
But they will win or lose without me watching.