David White: World Cup? That's for the rest of the world

Special to The BeeJune 14, 2014 

Yes, the World Cup is important to Italian fans and most of the world. Yes, they all show great passion for the sport and their event. But will Americans finally get all worked up? Don't count on it.

ANTONIO CALANNI — ASSOCIATED PRESS

Go Ghana, also known as Cote d'Ivoire!

I know, how un-American, not rooting for the United States of Our Own Lads. Take away my flag cape. Revoke my passport. Banish Bruce Springsteen's greatest hit from my iPod shuffle.

But then, after you've deported me to Uruguay -- which goes by the nickname "Honduras"-- remember one thing.

This isn't the World Cup to us. This is the Rest of the World Cup, and they can have it.

We are not a soccer nation. We don't care like the rest of the Earth cares. When is the last time you went to a professional soccer game? Name two national-team starters without using the power of Google?

Soccer is simply our way of making Little Johnny and Suzie get their exercise on Saturday mornings. We watch them trip over each other, give them medals because everyone's a winner, then hand out enough free snacks to keep the orange slice and Capri Sun industries afloat.

Raise your hand if you plan to start a tire fire if the U.S. loses to Ghana in its World Cup opener Monday. You can put your hand down now, Donovan Landon. As for the rest of us civilized folk, we save our street riots for a proper cause, like the Detroit Pistons losing to the Toronto Raptors.

Flame a Toyota Prius because we saw our national soccer team put a nil on the scoreboard? Please. We'll just mock the game as uninteresting, with never enough scoring, and flip the channel back to NFL Network to watch replay games of real football.

Which brings up another point: We don't even call it by its right name. The World Cup game is called football, people, not soccer. It predates our invented game by centuries. We steal the global game's name, attach it to our own idea of a fun time, call the original game of football by something else, and then wonder why the globe hates us enough to slip Justin Beiber across the Canada border.

Yes, 10s and 20s of you really do care more than once every four years. You are the few Americans not wondering why that red-bearded Alexi guy isn't on the field. The rest of us know neither which one out there is the midfielder nor what he gets paid to do. We'll root for the Americans just because they're Americans, but I'm telling you, it really isn't necessary.

These aren't Patriot Games. It's a soccer game.

In our national hierarchy, soccer ranks behind the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, NCAA football, NCAA basketball, NASCAR, high school football, the National Hockey League ... and whatever fringe sport your little Junior is signed up for this summer. Diving, shark jumping, whatever.

We'll watch the World Cup games so we have a reason not to mow the lawn just yet. We'll act like we really do care, if only because ESPN has convinced us soccer is the new black. We want to come off as internationally sophisticated, when the only international thing around here is our house of pancakes.

If Ghana beats us, we aren't screaming for the coach to be fired, because we don't even know his name, much less how to properly pronounce it.

So let Ghana, better known as Cameroon, have its World Cup victory. Let Bosnia and Herzegovina tag-team its way out of group play. Soccer is all these people have to chase down their civil strife history and chain-smoking poverty.

The World Cup is their way of proving they really are a sovereign nation, even if we don't remember them being on the laminated map when we flunked eighth-grade geography. Admit it, you haven't the first clue where Herzegovina is, other than it may be close to that Yugoslavia place.

This is the only game they have. Leave the World Cup to a people who care enough to topple their banana republic if they can't get past the Netherlands.

The columnist can be reached at bydw@sbcglobal.net or @bydavidwhite on Twitter.

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