I root for America no matter what. I rooted for Bobby Fisher when he played Boris Spassky in chess. When I watch the Olympic sports that I don’t understand or even like, I root for the USA.
It is the same for Ramona High School. If the Bulldogs are playing, I root for them. I have tried to support as many Bulldog activities as possible.
Before I started covering sports for the Sentinel, I attended and announced whenever possible. Before cable TV and satellite TV, RHS was the only show in town. When we had to rely on the good old antennas up here on the mountain, the coverage was horrible. I remember watching Monday Night Football and seeing number 1-1-1 2-2-2 throw three footballs to number 8-8-8 5-5-5, and I loved it.
During the lull of high school sports, I got up early to watch the World Cup games. While doing so I realized why soccer is not a major sport in the United States and I tried to figure out how the world’s most popular game could become more popular in the world’s biggest sports country.
First of all we will have to start calling the sport by its real name. To the rest of the world the game is football. In Europe they call American football, American Football. We will have to start calling soccer Football to get the respect of the rest of the soccer world and to catch some breaks from the international football officials.
That is one of my pet peeves. Why do we call Espana Spain? Why do we call Italia Italy? If a guy’s name is Jose, call him Jose not Joe. The same goes for countries. Call the country what the people who live in the country call it.
If football (soccer) is the most popular sport in the world, it has to become a popular sport in America.
When the Bulldogs were a football (soccer) dynasty under Bill Pittsford, the Bulldogs played night matches and had good attendance. They made a profit. They had multi-sport athletes on the team and more often than not the RHS Athlete of the Year played on the team. To become a major sport, the high school football team has got to start pulling its own weight at the gate, not just at RHS but in every school.
American sports fans are action lovers, not art lovers. There has to be more scoring. That probably will never happen.
Each game has to have a clear-cut winner. I can’t think of any other playoff system besides the World Cup that allows ties.
In American football and international basketball, hockey, baseball and tennis, etc., ties are played off. Playing ninety minutes of a nil-nil football will never become popular in America.
Soccer players are some of the most gifted and skilled athletes in sports. America will not recognize that given until they know who won the game after it is over. When the most exciting or talked about thing about a game is the noise made by the vuvuzelas, the sport is in trouble in America.
The officiating has to be changed. In American football they endeavor to identify on whom a penalty is called and state the penalty. In basketball the person fouling is identified. In hockey the guilty individual has to sit in a penalty box. In the World Cup and all of soccer, the official doesn’t even have to explain what the foul was or who committed it. That is bogus.
It is important to remember that some of the officials are from countries that kill players (Colombia) who score an own goal. Members of one team (I think it was Iraq) had their feet broken for unsatisfactory play. That has to weigh heavily on an official from that country.
Face it. America is not the most popular country in the world and countries that do not enjoy the same freedoms that we take for granted are envious of us, to say the least. Making a bad call against America or any other country might be a good idea or even a lifesaving idea by officials from some countries.
Soccer officials have too much power and can influence the outcome of the game they are officiating and the next game with their red and yellow cards. An official can issue a card without an explanation or reason. That might work in a nation that doesn’t have civil rights. America will never accept that concept.
Every stadium in the world has electricity. There should be a visible clock. There are visible clocks in basketball, hockey, swimming, water polo—you name it. The players, coaches and spectators deserve to know exactly how much time is left in the match.
There should also be instant replay at least in confirming the scoring of goals. Officials can disallow a score by an honest mistake or otherwise. Officials in other sports blow calls, too. However, when an American umpire blew a call that cost a pitcher a perfect game, the umpire admitted the mistake and apologized.
Take the drama out of the sport. Too many players are better actors than they are players. Faking injuries to draw a penalty happens too often. Some drama queen will be writhing in pain on the ground one minute and leading an assault on goal at full speed the next. If a player fakes or really has an injury or falls to the ground in fake pain, take him out of the match and off the pitch until he is cleared by a doctor, and make his team play shorthanded. That will cut down on the drama.
Soccer is a beautiful game. Its athletes are skilled and are in great condition. They are among the best in sport. It is the most popular sport in the world.
America competes in international soccer (football). We all want America to do well. The sport will never reach the popularity of the WWE until some changes are made. That is not as much of a criticism as a fact of life.