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July 10, 2014 7:21 am

AMEND CORNER: Soccer and America’s ‘moral decay’

Written by Don Amend

It was a good run, but the good old USA fell short in the World Cup competition last week.

I suppose that has soccer fans around Powell a bit blue this week, and maybe all those people who don’t much care for soccer but think the U.S. should win all the time are sad as well.

Well, be comforted by the fact that you may have saved your country from moral decay, or at least delayed the process a bit.

Actually, I didn’t know that an increasing interest in soccer among America’s people was a sign of moral decay until I read Ann Coulter’s column last week. Ann, one of our noisier conservative commentators, is certain that if Americans become more interested in soccer, it’s a definite sign that the nation is on a slippery slope to sin and corruption.

The next thing you know we’ll all be speaking French and measuring everything in meters instead of yards.

Too many soccer games end in ties, according to Ann. That means there is often no winner, an un-American aspect of the game that can’t be tolerated.

On top of that, there aren’t as many serious injuries as there are in real American football, so not enough players are hauled off the field on stretchers. Worse yet, soccer isn’t even played on a field, but on the “pitch” in an obvious attempt to subvert the English language.

But the absolute worst thing about soccer, Ann says, is that there’s too much team spirit. Soccer players never have to face the humiliation of striking out with the bags full or having an opponent go over you to score on a slam dunk. Conversely, she says, nobody can bask in individual glory by smashing his way over the goal line or being caught in a fireman’s carry and pinned to the mat. Any real American sport, she contends, provides for both individual glory and ignominy, so soccer is un-American.

In short, Ann says, playing, watching or promoting soccer is, without a doubt, a sure path to destruction, and it’s a wonder it isn’t mentioned in the Book of Revelation.

Of course, the evil culprits who are promoting this interest in soccer are the usual suspects, The New York Times and people who like Hilary Clinton, along with all those foreigners who have gotten in thanks to an immigration law foisted on us by Ted Kennedy 30 years ago.

At least that’s what Ann thinks, or at least appears to think. Her columns are so completely off the wall sometimes that it’s hard to tell if she’s really angry about something or is just pulling our collective legs.

I am a bit suspicious that she hasn’t seen very many soccer games, or she would have seen a humiliated goalie who misplayed a ball and allowed a goal or an acrobatic shot on goal off the foot of a striker.

Still, I have to admit, I’m not much of a soccer fan, and I am sympathetic to some of her complaints about what has been called the world’s most popular game. She’s definitely right about that scoreless tie thing, for one thing, and it often seems as though nothing is happening for much of the game.

But I don’t have much experience with soccer. The only time I ever played the game was in a physical education class several decades ago. It seemed as though we did a lot of pointless running around without much purpose, and I’m rather averse to that much running.

I get the same impression when I watch a match, too, and I know I’m not the only one. A soccer match was once described as 22 people running around for 90 minutes and then Germany wins, and it seems a fit description too many times.

But, before all you soccer fans start bombing the Tribune with nasty comments about my intellectual shortcomings and disrespect for a respectable sport, I hasten to admit that my lack of appreciation for soccer stems from basic ignorance of the game and how it is played.

Had I grown up with soccer and learned its ins and outs, I might be as fanatic about it as was the crowd of pre-teen boys I saw playing the game one evening on a crowded street in Zanzibar Town, blissfully ignoring the dozens of shoppers, sightseers and motor scooter riders traipsing through their improvised pitch in the twilight.

Soccer enjoys that sort of popularity throughout the world, and when I’ve taken the opportunity to watch a Powell Panther match or two, I’ve noticed that the local kids are enjoying the heck out of it as well.

That tells me there must be a reason for that popularity, and if I haven’t found something to like about soccer, it’s not the game’s fault, but mine. I’ll work on that angle the next time I get a chance.

As for Ann’s theory, I can think of lots of signs of moral decay in the U.S. these days. Soccer definitely isn’t among them.

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