Frantz: USA's loss raises hopes for silence about soccer 

Soccer lovers, have your keyboards ready. The e-mail address for your forthcoming hate mail is listed below.

Don’t tell me, let me guess: The USA soccer team’s advancement to the World Cup Sweet 16 — highlighted by a spine-tingling 1-0 win over somebody to get out of “group play” — is a watershed moment that will finally elevate the sport into America’s mainstream, where it will take its rightful place alongside the NFL, NBA and MLB. Right?

Sure it will. Just like it has so many times before.

Seems to me, every time this nation sends a soccer team to an international competition and doesn’t finish last, soccer fans cling to the moment as the genesis of America’s new love affair with “fútbol.” When the women’s team won the Word Cup in 1999, Brandi Chastain sold a million sports bras in about 2.2 seconds — but she couldn’t have talked a million American fans into caring about the sport itself unless she had taken the strip show one layer further.

OK, that wouldn’t have done it either.

Eleven years later, after Ghana ended Team USA’s hopes Saturday, full analysis of the impact of the Americans’ performance on the popularity of soccer in our country is under way. I will now summarize said analysis for you, with a slight variation of Marc Antony’s words following Caesar’s assassination: “Friends, Americans, soccer fans, lend me your ears. I come to bury your sport, not to praise it.”

That’s right — this is a celebration of the fact that we can now count on four glorious years of soccer irrelevance in the U.S. before having to endure The Beautiful Nap again.

I know, I know: “If you don’t like it, then don’t watch it! Nobody’s forcing you!” True. And I didn’t watch it. But escaping this monstrosity isn’t as easy as avoiding the curling competition during the Olympics.

For the better part of a month, we have had World Cup news and analysis jammed down our throats by international media and American corporate giants like ESPN that paid way too much for the exclusive rights and thus had no choice but to jump on American sports fans like the president on a tax hike. We haven’t been able to watch SportsCenter since the first of June because soccer coverage has been inserted between every baseball highlight, MMA knockout, U.S. Open leaderboard, Wimbledon report and NBA finals recap. Newspapers around the country have devoted more space to the soccer tournament than to the ongoing budget crisis and the Afghanistan war combined.

The final return on the massive investment included a U.S. squad that went 1-1-2 in South Africa and escaped the first round only because of an English goalie with fingers more slippery than Darren McFadden’s. Along the way, the Americans managed to slip a whopping five goals into 360-plus minutes of play. Defibrillators must have been flying off medical supply store shelves.

This is not a condemnation, of course, of the effort given by the American players. I’m told by those who watched that they played with great heart and emotion. They should be proud. But the game is what the game is.

If anyone is still unsure, let me say this one more time until 2014: Stop trying to sell soccer to fans who’d rather watch ice fishing — in July.

We are Americans. And we don’t ... like ... soccer.
Sports personality Bob Frantz is a regular contributor to The Examiner. E-mail him at

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