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I grew up in an area, the Clear Fork Valley, that when I was young was vigorously anti-soccer.  In fact, if you liked soccer you were considered to be a Communist.

I was a member of that crowd because I didn’t know any better.  Everyone around me had the same feeling, so I did as well.  But, the summer of 1999 changed my mind.  I have always been a David Letterman fan and that late spring and early summer he was talking about and showing pictures of the United States Women’s Soccer Team.  At the same time, ESPN was running some imaginative promotional announcements for the upcoming world cup to be staged in the United States.

So, I decided to give it a try, even with the fear of being called a “pinko commy” in my own hometown, something I’m used to considering my political leanings.  Guess what?  I was hooked.  I guess more so because of the personalities of players like Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastian, but I also leaned to appreciate the game.  The fact that a 1-to-0 soccer match can be more exciting than a 110-to-108 basketball game or a 14-to-12 baseball game.  Because I got off to late start I am still learning the complexities of the game.

Of course, there was the winning, the winning was pretty good too.  The U.S. women won that world cup in front of a sell out crowd at the Rose Bowl.  They had already won the 1991 World Cup and the 1996 Olympic title.  They would go on to win the 2004 Olympic Gold Medal and have the 2000 gold taken from them on one of the worst calls in the history of the game when Norway scored in overtime on a hand ball.  Believe me when I was young I would have had no idea what a hand ball was.

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Soccer for Dummies


Soccer (or as most of the world calls it football) is almost certainly the most popular sport on the planet.  It's a sport of endless running requiring great endurance.  Other than throw-ins, it's a sport of feet and heads, but no hands (except the goalie who is the only player allowed to touch the ball with his hands or arms).  Players caught willfully disregarding the rules or intentionally engaging in dangerous play are warned by a referee with a yellow card or, upon a second violation, shown the door via a red card.


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