Every four years, American soccer fans are getting better at agonizing over the World Cup. As I write in my new book, eight years ago in Germany I noticed the social media raging over the lineups of Bruce Arena. This was progress as a soccer nation.
Four years ago in South Africa I was aware of how fans exulted – electronically -- over the 91st-minute goal produced by the law firm of Howard, Donovan, Altidore, Dempsey and Donovan.
Now the greatest angst is over the exclusion of Donovan – that is not going away easily -- but there is also the growing sophistication on the fan sites about the fine-tuning being performed by Jurgen Klinsmann in three domestic friendlies. On Sunday, fans had the Wall Street buzz of watching the players' stock go up and down, virtually by the touch.
I was not immune as I watched Tim Chandler playing catchup at left back, getting a look in place of DaMarcus Beasley, who is a decade older. Chandler, who is right-footed, is more comfortable at right back but Klinsmann thinks he needs to upgrade at left back.
At one point Chandler darted forward, followed the play, caught up with a nice pass toward the left corner and centered it admirably, as the USA scored on a flubbed poke by Clint Dempsey.
That will raise Chandler’s stock, I thought.
But Chandler faded back to insecurity. In the 90th minute he made a mistake that led to a penalty goal for Turkey in a 2-1 victory for the USA.
Oops, a late-afternoon slide, as they say on the market channels.
I’m still a Beasley supporter. He plays the whole field and gives everything.
The USA will play one more friendly before heading to Brazil. The fans will be watching the market fluctuations.
In other countries, there is gnashing of teeth over exclusions and inclusions. Giuseppe Rossi, from New Jersey, did not make the Italian squad for the second straight World Cup. The kid tossed and lost in choosing his Italian passport over his American passport. There is still time for injuries to ruin four years, as Mexican and Italian players discovered this weekend.
To get into this growing American fascination with the rhythms of the World Cup, consult your favorite fan site, as well as:
Measuring Covid Deaths, by David Leonhardt. July 17, 2023. NYT online.
The United States has reached a milestone in the long struggle against Covid: The total number of Americans dying each day — from any cause — is no longer historically abnormal….
After three horrific years, in which Covid has killed more than one million Americans and transformed parts of daily life, the virus has turned into an ordinary illness.
The progress stems mostly from three factors:
First, about three-quarters of U.S. adults have received at least one vaccine shot.
Second, more than three-quarters of Americans have been infected with Covid, providing natural immunity from future symptoms. (About 97 percent of adults fall into at least one of those first two categories.)
Third, post-infection treatments like Paxlovid, which can reduce the severity of symptoms, became widely available last year.
“Nearly every death is preventable,” Dr. Ashish Jha, who was until recently President Biden’s top Covid adviser, told me. “We are at a point where almost everybody who’s up to date on their vaccines and gets treated if they have Covid, they rarely end up in the hospital, they almost never die.”
That is also true for most high-risk people, Jha pointed out, including older adults — like his parents, who are in their 80s — and people whose immune systems are compromised. “Even for most — not all but most —immuno-compromised people, vaccines are actually still quite effective at preventing against serious illness,” he said. “There has been a lot of bad information out there that somehow if you’re immuno-compromised that vaccines don’t work.”
That excess deaths have fallen close to zero helps make this point: If Covid were still a dire threat to large numbers of people, that would show up in the data.
One point of confusion, I think, has been the way that many Americans — including we in the media — have talked about the immuno-compromised. They are a more diverse group than casual discussion often imagines.
Most immuno-compromised people are at little additional risk from Covid — even people with serious conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or a history of many cancers. A much smaller group, such as people who have received kidney transplants or are undergoing active chemotherapy, face higher risks.
Covid’s toll, to be clear, has not fallen to zero. The C.D.C.’s main Covid webpage estimates that about 80 people per day have been dying from the virus in recent weeks, which is equal to about 1 percent of overall daily deaths.
The official number is probably an exaggeration because it includes some people who had virus when they died even though it was not the underlying cause of death. Other C.D.C. data suggests that almost one-third of official recent Covid deaths have fallen into this category. A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases came to similar conclusions.
Dr. Shira Doron, the chief infection control officer at Tufts Medicine in Massachusetts, told me that “age is clearly the most substantial risk factor.” Covid’s victims are both older and disproportionately unvaccinated. Given the politics of vaccination, the recent victims are also disproportionately
Republican and white.
Each of these deaths is a tragedy. The deaths that were preventable — because somebody had not received available vaccines and treatments — seem particularly tragic. (Here’s a Times guide to help you think about when to get your next booster shot.)
From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.