Sarasota News Leader

07/25/2014

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COMMENTARY It is absolutely f a s c i n a t i n g t o note that a sport would prove to be the only "genre" to unite the world — and that the only sport to do this would be soccer. Known as "football" in every country but the U.S., this phenomenon is nothing short of unparalleled. Even in the States, learning to play soccer begins in childhood; but I have a feeling that it is more organized here than in the rest of the world. We have teams, uniforms, coaches and, my favorite, "soccer moms." And I was probably one of the latter in the past, having attended every game my son, Eric, played and not understanding a thing. Buy I did understand that I was to save his uni- forms, and he is very grateful to me for that. Other countries have kids kicking a ball up and down a field, trying to get a goal and taking pride in their win with just as much passion and joy as their more organized mates. Many countries have soccer idols/superstars who are followed fanatically by adults; and when the children are very young, they are taught by their parents to love this game and to root hard and strong for the team that is the par- ents' choice. I remember being in England once, visit- ing a family who had two boys, ages 4 and 6. The family was watching a soccer match on TV with total silence and intense concen- tration. The boys sat with their dad, wearing the team's T-shirt and holding onto a soccer ball for comfort; and they already understood all the basics of the sport. I was banished to the kitchen because, as an American, I "just didn't get it." Now, having lived through the past few weeks as a new soccer fan, maybe I understand a little more. The World Cup is unique. Every country competes until there are two teams remaining, and then we watch the talented players, creating their own form of magic until one team wins the championship. It is an incredibly grueling sport that even I, as a novice, can appreciate. I watched the last few matches of the World Cup and empathized with Brazil and its unheard-of trouncing. I could not take my eyes off Tim Howard, with his mastery of reaction time and amazingly accurate antici- pation of where the ball would go. I rooted for Argentina all along because Lionel Messi is the only soccer player I recog- nize and also because he plays for Barcelona, a city dear to my heart. My team came close to winning it all, but in the end, the better team prevailed. One billion people all over the world watched the finals of the World Cup. I am proud to say I was one of them. % ONE WORLD By Harriet Cuthbert Contributing Writer OPINION Sarasota News Leader July 25, 2014 Page 88

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