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Rejecting the soccer pitch

July 19, 2006

Re "First Kyoto, now the World Cup," Current, July 16

Michael Skube's defense of the "American exceptionalism" that so many Americans use to justify ignoring, or ridiculing, soccer neglects a couple of issues. Exceptional works both ways: We can be taking exception, which we seem to be with regard to soccer, or we can be exceptional at it, which might be more in keeping with our collective national ego.

For Americans, winning the World Cup, or even doing well in it, is really the point. Minus that, we're probably never going to be comfortable partaking in the monthlong international party for reasons that probably have roots deep in the country's psyche. In the meantime, we're missing a unique event that can be a lot of fun even if it doesn't provide many opportunities to go to the refrigerator or the bathroom without risking missing something crucial (like a well-taken, if ill-advised, head butt!).

When it comes to sports, the American way seems to be to invent a sport and then declare ourselves world champions. The only problem is we can't even manage that anymore -- witness basketball and baseball in recent years. Maybe it's time to conquer soccer and really be champs.

JIM BICKHART

Venice

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Bravo to Skube for making the point that Americans must apologize for not watching soccer and learn to love the game because of global politics. Without a doubt, our media shoveled the World Cup down our throats in yet another attempt to penetrate the ratings of the Super Bowl or the World Series.

The media can bully us all they want; in the end we love what we love, and if the world wants to watch a sport that needs to flop, dive, whine, cry and penalty-kick to score, then fine. Americans would rather watch football, baseball, basketball and hockey. And this American is offering no apologies.

ADAM WHITE

Burbank

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