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WORLD CUP USA '94 / QUARTERFINALS : Spotlight : FORGET THE FUTURE, ENJOY THE MOMENT

July 11, 1994|HUGH McILVANNEY | Sunday Times of London

"Whether the consequences of America's creditable showing in this World Cup turn out to be important or trivial, lasting or fleeting, here and now there is an obligation to recognize the admirable qualities of the players who produced it.

"The natural tendency is to lunge into predictions about the impact their achievements will have on the future of professional football in the U.S.A. But, since such forecasts are invalidated by the scarcity of reliable evidence, it makes sense to remember that sport has less to do with expansionist dreams and commercial projections than with the celebration of the moment.

"It was certainly 'a moment,' prolonged and exhilarating, that the U.S. team created. If it had accomplished no more than the silencing of a lot of smart mouths from coast to coast, the marginalizing of all those tiresome, insular cynics who sought to portray football as a pastime for adolescent girls that might contaminate the manhood of the nation, it would deserve widespread gratitude.

"But what they did out on the field had a much more positive dimension. They played with such honesty and seriousness of purpose, with such a strong and integrated spirit, that ultimately their efforts were not merely impressive but enough to evoke an emotional warmth--and not only from their countrymen. . . ."

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