The level of soccer expertise is rising all over this huge country. In the past two days, while plugging my new soccer book – Eight World Cups -- I have done over 20 phone interviews with broadcasters from coast to coast – Richmond to Tulsa, Seattle to Orlando.
The level of knowledge and experience was high. Gone are the days of raising the hoary sportswriter cliché that Americans will never go for a sport in which players don’t use their hands. It’s a new generation, thanks to cable and the web, plus MLS and our men’s and women’s teams, and the great leagues of Europe.
Plus, we are acknowledging our own soccer heritage, now going back generations. For your enjoyment, here is a link to a lovely article by R.J. Young, an e-mail buddy of mine, in This Land Magazine, about Charlie Mitchell, the first player signed by the Tulsa Roughnecks of the NASL, and later the coach of the Tulsa team that beat the Cosmos in 1983 and then won the next-to-last title in that doomed league.
In recent days, broadcasters around the country told me about matches they have seen. I was too busy babbling to take notes and names, but one recalled his first match (scoreless, Swindon Town at Sunderland) and another recalled getting hooked on a match at West Ham. Another compared notes with me about the Honduras-USA match in Soldiers Field in Chicago in 2009 – how the crowd was easily half Honduran (or maybe that was just the decibel count.)
Everybody wanted to talk about Jürgen Klinsmann’s omission of Landon Donovan from the USA squad. (Most think Klinsi is flat wrong.)
And just about everybody wanted to know about the “dark side” of my subtitle – FIFA’s greasy stewardship, the messy awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, and whether the tournament would be moved to, oh, say, the USA. (No way, I said, read my book as to why.)
It’s a new age. Americans have absorbed soccer. At the very least, America is preparing for its giant quadrennial party. And as soccer keeps growing, many commentators will keep people informed
(URGENT AS OF FRIDAY PM: The Steve Kornacki show had to cancel for Saturday because hard news raised its head. We hope to reschedule.
On Saturday I am taping an interview with Al-Jazeera. More information to come.
However, while in Boston I had a great interview with Bill Littlefield of Only a Game on WBUR. I am told it will air sometime Saturday, at different times on NPR. Please consult local listings.)
And on Monday, I am taping an appearance with John Schaefer of WNYC, the host of the stimulating New Sounds show. What do I have to do with music? Good question.
Please consult the Appearances box, to the left, for other appearances.)
“They may hate the cultural context they now find themselves teaching in, but they love their work. The Achilles’ heel of schoolteachers, one all too easily exploited by politicians, is that they love their students.”
(One of the best reads in the NYT these days is Margaret Renkl, in Nashville. In her latest post, Renkl describes the dedicated core of “born teachers” – the majority, she submits.)
(From Madeleine Albright in one of her final interviews in February):
“Putin is small and pale,” I wrote, “so cold as to be almost reptilian.” He claimed to understand why the Berlin Wall had to fall but had not expected the whole Soviet Union to collapse. “Putin is embarrassed by what happened to his country and determined to restore its greatness.” – Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, recalling her first meeting with the relatively unknown Vladimir Putin in 2000. – The New York Times, Feb. 23, 2022.