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Beck, Olbermann and World Cup soccer

OK, it was fine when Glenn Beck started bagging on World Cup soccer.

Even if you’re a gung-ho Republican, you know that Beck can have his moments where he’s not quite all there – several screw drivers short of a full tool box.

But then Keith Olbermann started with it. Relax, we’re not going into politics. As a center-left person, I enjoy Olbermann’s self-righteous indignation. It’s good theater. That’s it.



But when Beck and Olbermann actually agree on something, the world as we know it could be coming to an end – or they’re both just wrong.

We’ll go with the latter.



Why doesn’t this country get into soccer? I understand that as patriotic as we are on the Fourth of July, when it comes to sports, we’re a provincial people. I’m a San Franciscan and my allegiance in sports is with the Giants in baseball, the Niners in football and the Sharks in hockey. For some reason, a lot of locals go with the Rockies, Broncos and Avalanche in these categories.

Since very few in the United States really have blood ties to MLS teams, what’s the issue with getting into the World Cup?

• It’s low scoring … So what? So’s a 14-10 football game. That’s a 2-1.5 game essentially. And most baseball games – supposedly America’s pastime – when played right are low-scoring as well. (Good pitching.) Everyone around here loves hockey, especially in the playoffs, and that’s defensive-oriented puck. The Avs biggest win of the season came in Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinals by a score of 1-0. Didn’t hear you complaining then.



Soccer builds as was the case with Landon Donovan’s score. It can also come out of nowhere. That’s the drama, people.

• Ties are dumb … No, draws add to the intrigue. What makes sports great is would-haves and could-haves. With ties you’ve got that debate. What if England’s Robert Green makes a save all of us could have made? What if the U.S.’s Jozy Altidore doesn’t hit the post?

Plus, draws put extra pressure on later matches in group play as we saw the Americans and English needing wins on the final day to advance. There’s also the invoking of massively complicated playoff tiebreaker scenario which was coming into play if there was another tie. This is just like the final week of the NFL’s season where Denver can make the playoffs with a win or a Miami loss and the Raiders scoring 16 or more points in partly cloudy weather. You like that. Try soccer.

• The officiating is bad … Yes, there have been some awful calls, but it’s not like a World Cup ref blew an easy call that deprived a guy of a perfect game recently. Oops.

Officiating is always questioned and controversial calls litter the American sporting scene. (The Immaculate Reception, The Tuck Game, etc. … Too bad those both went against the Raiders.) After every NFL, NBA, NHL or high school game, everybody’s complaining about the officiating. Add soccer to the list

• The action is slow … This I don’t get. This from baseball, football and basketball fans. Baseball games are more than three hours. Football is standing around for 20-30 seconds and then running a play. It takes at least 20 minutes to play the final 120 seconds of any basketball game.

Soccer is 45 minutes or so or non-stop flow. You get a break at the half to do the necessary things of life and then it’s another 45 minutes, and done. And after that you complain about all the low scoring, the ties, the bad officiating and so on over a cold one.

• So the next step is that soccer can appeal American superiority, right? Here we are, a nation which doesn’t care about soccer, is in the Round of 16, and has a pretty good shot of making the semifinals.

Because everyone likes a winner. Even Beck and Olbermann can agree on that.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.


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