I’m not a fan of soccer.
There, I said it.
Sure, I cover the sport and know the rules, and I can discuss philosophies to a degree, but I’m not a diehard. I don’t spend my free time going to matches, and my DVR has never recorded a single second of action.
That doesn’t mean the sport is not worthwhile, because obviously, millions of people around the planet are obsessed with soccer, but it just can’t capture my attention.
Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t care.
Like most, I was surprised to hear the United States men’s national team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup after losing to Trinidad and Tobago 2-1 on Tuesday.
It is considered by many to be the most embarrassing defeat in U.S. soccer history, and some are outraged.
While I’m not reacting to the news by flipping tables or punching holes in a wall, it is disappointing. After all, as an American, I want to see our country excel in every international sports competition.
At some point, patriotism kicks in, and we all want to chant, “USA! USA!” as our team attempts to dominate at a global level.
The Olympics are no different. Nobody has to understand all the intricacies of bobsledding, gymnastics or ping-pong to become invested in the outcome, because at our core, we simply want to see Americans excel.
Sunday morning, that happened in a sport I happen to care deeply for — distance running.
Galen Rupp, a 31-year-old Portland native, won theChicago marathon in 2 hours, 9 minutes, 20 seconds to become the first American male to win the race since 2002, when Khalid Khannouchi won. Khannouchi, however, is from Morocco, but he became a naturalized citizen in 2000.
Making the achievement even more impressive is the fact the last American-born winner was Greg Meyer in 1982.
On top of that, 26-year-old Jordan Hasay, of California, finished third in the women’s field with a time of 2:20:57.
Although I am personally invested in the sport, I know many people who are unfamiliar with or simply don’t even care about marathons took notice as well and probably even felt a sense of pride in the accomplishments.
And just like the U.S. men’s national soccer team’s recent downfall, many uneducated people are sharing their views. Some are declaring American running is back among the elite in a sport where Kenyans and Ethiopians historically rule, and others are calling the men’s national soccer program a complete joke.
Meanwhile, most critics know nothing other than the headlines they read in the newspaper or the two-minute segment airing on the nightly news broadcast.
Regardless, the point is, as a country, we care about our national sports; even if it is only when they reach their biggest stages.
I’m not a fan of soccer, but it doesn’t matter, because I am a fan of our country and the athletes we produce.